Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Sanofi told EURACTIV France they would not comment on French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s statement that they should “participate in the collective effort” to support the 2023 health budget.
Read the original article in French here.
Rising pharmaceutical company profits have prompted calls for the companies to be included in extraordinary tax initiatives on profits, akin to “windfall” taxes on energy suppliers.
In the first quarter of 2022, Pfizer recorded revenue of $27.5 billion, an increase of 77% in the space of one year. In the first quarter of 2020, Sanofi announced a 15.9% increase in its net income year-on-year, or just over 2 billion euros.
“I can confirm that in the social security financing bill (PLFSS) which is presented this morning, we are asking pharmaceutical companies to make an effort,” said Borne. BFMTV/RMC Monday, September 26, shortly before the bill was presented to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Borne said, “We can all see they’ve made a significant amount of money.”
But pharmaceutical companies, including Sanofi, Roche and Pfizer, had no comment for EURACTIV and referred questions to industry association Leem.
“We will not react to Elisabeth Borne’s remarks,” said the association when questioned.
The PLFSS file
In the PLFSS file, the government’s message is clear: after two years of pandemic, the objective is to “rebalance the social security accounts”.
At the height of the COVID pandemic, health expenditure increased significantly, especially to finance vaccination or the PCR/antigen test. The total pandemic-related public spending bill will rise to 11 billion euros by the end of 2022, according to government estimates – leading some to call for a tax on profits made by big pharma during the same period to rebalance the accounts.
Borne said it was important for pharmaceutical companies to “join in the collective effort”.
However, for the pharmaceutical companies, the priority is elsewhere.
In a statement on Tuesday, the pharmaceutical industry association Leem criticized a budget reduction in drug spending announced in the 2023 budget file, down 7% from €26.4bn to €24.6bn. .
All this “while the country has not yet overcome the COVID crisis, and inflation and the government’s pricing policy are weakening the model of research, innovation and industrial production”, writes the industrial association. .
The European Commission in favor of taxation
The question of the taxation of windfall profits has recently entered the French and European political arena.
In her State of the Union speech on Wednesday 14 September in Strasbourg, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke out in favor of taxing the profits of large energy companies.
“In these times, it is wrong to receive extraordinary record profits for the benefit of war and on the backs of consumers. In these times, benefits must be shared and channeled to those who need it most,” she said.
More recently, in France, the left-wing coalition NUPES presented to the National Assembly a draft law on a referendum of shared initiative to tax companies whose turnover exceeds 750 million euros.
The NUPES is now waiting for the green light from the Constitutional Council. He will then need to collect 4.5 million signatures to activate a referendum on the tax.
According to its proponents, taxing windfall profits would help deal with inflation in energy and food prices. As a reminder, the European Central Bank forecasts “very high” inflation of 8.1% for 2022.
[Edited by Alice Taylor/Nathalie Weatherald]