Press Release, 9 April 2014
Coalition against Bayer Dangers
BAYER Shareholder Meeting on April 29:
Coalition introduces Countermotions
The Coalition against BAYER Dangers, which has been monitoring the chemical and pharmaceutical company BAYER for 35 years, has introduced countermotions to the upcoming Shareholder Meeting. Environmental organizations announced to discuss the proposals within the gathering. About 3,000 shareholders are expected to attend.
Countermotion: The company BAYER has caused numerous environmental and social problems. The following are examples of irresponsible policies supported by the Board of Management:
Medications only for the rich
Marjin Dekkers, the Chairman of the BAYER Board of Management, recently made the following statement on the launch of the cancer drug NEXAVAR: "To be honest, we did not develop this drug for the Indian market. We developed it for patients in the West, who can afford it."
Mr. Dekkers's statement offers a revealing and frightening glimpse into the inner life of the drug industry. The development of new drugs is not driven by medical necessity but exclusively by profit. For BAYER it isn't a question of how many people will benefit from a new drug. Instead, its research and marketing policies are deliberately designed to earn the highest prices, regardless of how many people are thereby denied access to the drugs. Because the pharmaceutical industry spends far more money on marketing than on research, the argument that the high prices are necessary for the development of new drugs is altogether spurious. BAYER spends more than 10 billion euros on sales and marketing - approximately three times what it spends on research.
Hazardous oral contraceptives
Contraceptives that contain the active ingredient drospirenone have a risk of thrombosis or embolism which is two to three times higher than that of older contraceptives. In Germany alone, approximately 250 serious embolisms a year could be prevented if all women were treated with second-generation contraceptives.
Although BAYER is doing everything in its power to deny compensation to the many thousands of victims (including hundreds of fatalities), the Group has nevertheless paid USD 1.7 billion to more than 8,000 affected women. In spite of that, the group refuses to admit any wrongdoing and is continuing its marketing campaigns. Cynically, BAYER is even one of the sponsors of "World Thrombosis Day", which is intended to call attention to the risks of thromboembolisms (more info).
Risks of XARELTO
BAYER is putting its full resources behind the marketing of the anticoagulant XARELTO - including for indications for which the drug has not been proven to be effective. For example, so far there have been no studies that demonstrate that XARELTO is any better than the established drug Marcumar/Warfarin in the treatment of atrial fibrillation. The independent medical journal arznei-telegramm therefore generally advises against its use for such purposes.
XARELTO does not reduce strokes, systemic embolism or the relevant rate of hemorrhages; the fact that the medication is the most frequently prescribed drug among new anticoagulants can be explained only by exorbitant marketing and pressure on medical associations. Nor is XARELTO recommended for treatment of Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS). The US FDA has withheld approval for that use on account of the poor quality of the studies presented by BAYER. In more than 10% of patients, the observation period was so short that at the end of the study there was no way to tell whether the patient was even still alive. In addition, a random check of the primary data revealed that multiple fatalities during treatment with XARELTO had simply been ignored. On top of all that, the result was distorted by the – apparently deliberate - exclusion of unfavorable data.
Meanwhile, the number of reported side effects has been rocketing. According to the Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte (German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, BfArM), 133 fatal outcomes and 1400 serious side effects were recorded last year in Germany alone. BAYER should not be allowed to continue to market a drug purely for profit motives when there are significant doubts about its safety. The company should have learned from the scandals that surrounded LIPOBAY, TRASYLOL and YAZ. Drugs that offer no advantages over older medications should not be approved (more info).
Antibiotics in livestock
The quantity of antibiotics being used in German livestock has declined slightly. Nevertheless, approximately seven times as many bactericides are used in intensive animal husbandry as in human medicine. And if we consider just the use of the antibiotic BAYTRIL, one of the fluoroquinolone class of drugs sold by BAYER, its use is increasing. The most recently available figures show an increase by 25% in Germany over the previous year.
BAYTRIL is a close relative of the reserve antibiotics ciprofloxacin and moxifloxacin which are used in treating humans. Increasingly resistant bacteria have evolved as the result of widespread use of these drugs in animals and they are losing their effectiveness. The WHO has for years promoted a ban on the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock. That may be one reason BAYER says nothing about the sales of BAYTRIL in the current annual report.
Bee colony collapse disorder
On December 1, to stem the widespread collapse of bee colonies, the EU completely banned the use of the pesticides imidacloprid and clothianidin sold by BAYER. Even in extremely low concentrations, the active ingredients can damage the nervous systems of insects and can lead to chronic poisoning. The decline in bee populations threatens the pollination of important food crops and thus the reliability of food supply. Birds are also affected because the declining population of wild insects is no longer sufficient to sustain them. BAYER and SYNGENTA are appealing the EU ban in spite of the evidence of the harmful nature of these products reported in dozens of independent studies. Sales outside the EU also continue. Once again, short-term profit is more important for BAYER then the protection of plants and animals (more info).
HIV infection of hemophiliacs
The "Deutsche Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband" (German Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired) recently awarded its German Film Prize to the TV production entitled "Blutgeld" (Blood Money). One of the three principal sponsors of the award was BAYER AG.
"Blood Money" tells the true story of three brothers who were infected with HIV by anticoagulant drugs. The story unfolds against the background of the infection of thousands of hemophiliacs with HIV and hepatitis C through the mid-1980s, primarily by products manufactured by BAYER. Internal company memos had long before noted the risks for hemophiliacs. Nevertheless the company failed to draw the necessary conclusions. The German Parliament determined that the majority of the infections could have been prevented because tests and deactivation methods were available at the time. For profit reasons, however, BAYER resisted modifying its production techniques and destroying untested drugs.
To this day, BAYER is refusing to pay just compensation to the victims. In hard-fought legal battles, however, the company has been forced to make payments of several hundred million euros. BAYER's sponsorship of the prize awarded to "Blood Money" is a slap in the face of the infected hemophiliacs. The victims have been tricked into putting a human face on BAYER in exchange for "charitable donations".
Health hazards caused by bisphenol A
The teeth of approximately 10% of all children are not strong enough and therefore decay as a result of insufficient mineralization. The substance Bisphenol A (BPA) is suspected to be one of the triggers of this condition. In tests on animals, Bisphenol A has shown an adverse effect on the mineralization of teeth in rats.
BAYER is one of the largest producers of BPA worldwide. The chemical is used in, among other things, plastic bottles, cans and food packaging materials. Dozens of studies connect BPA with obesity, infertility, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Dr. Norbert Kraemer of the Giessen Polyclinic for Pediatric Dentistry therefore advises against the use of plastic baby bottles, beverage cups and the purchase of food packaged in materials that contain BPA. Already in 2008, Canada declared Bisphenol A a "hazardous substance" and banned its use in baby bottles. The EU ban against use in baby bottles followed in 2011. Several EU countries have adopted additional bans on the use of BPA in food packaging and beverage bottles.
Nevertheless, BAYER continues to sell Bisphenol A for high-risk uses.
A few weeks ago the EU announced a drastic reduction of the permissible limit for the intake of BPA. The upper limit is to be reduced from 50 μg per kilogram of body weight to 5 μg. But that's not enough. Hormone active chemicals must be eliminated entirely from all everyday products. We also urgently need to reverse the burden of proof.
Chemicals that are suspected of being hazardous to human health must be banned - unless the producers can convincingly disprove this suspicion. Otherwise, decades will continue to pass between the initial indications of harm and the banning of a substance.
A labor court in the northern Spanish city of Mieres has ordered BAYER to pay damages of € 71,800 to the surviving dependents of a long-time employee. The employee died as a result of decades-long exposure to asbestos in the Langreo (Asturias) plant. In the eyes of the court, BAYER ignored the risks and neglected to adequately protect its employees. Overall, approximately 1/5 of the asbestos consumed worldwide was used in the chemical industry. BAYER has been aware of the risks to life and health for decades. The industry was able to delay the ban by approximately 25 years by presenting "expert" reports it paid for and by making contributions to the "Institute for Water, Soil and Hygiene", which was the responsible regulatory body at the time. Thousands of employees are paying the price with their lives.
To date, BAYER has not established any follow-up care program which covers all those affected and offers them medical treatment.