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JULY 15, 2002
2:28 PM
CONTACT:  Institute for Public Accuracy
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
Interviews Available on Corporate Accountability
WASHINGTON - July 15 -

Pfizer merger

    Associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, Himmelstein said today: "The Pfizer buyout of Pharmacia announced today is the industry's response to the reality that they have very little in the pipeline in terms of new products. Drug firms still have the highest profit margins of any industry, but that is beginning to wane. The industry has spent the last decade basically buying innovation from academia. Research has focused on what's profitable in the short run and less and less on the necessary science for future innovation. Companies now want to corner the market as a way to deal with the fact that their profits are dropping."

    Dow / Union Carbide off the hook on Bhopal?

    Tangri is with Essential Action, an international anti-corporate campaigning group, and South Asians for Community Action. He said today: "While everyone in the U.S. is currently talking about corporate financial crimes, there should be more open discussion about corporate crimes that kill people. In 1984, a Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India, leaked a deadly gas because safety features were disabled as part of an effort to cut costs. Almost 18 years later, after 20,000 people have died, compensation money has not been fully distributed. In a case to be decided this Wednesday, the Indian government, under pressure from Dow, is moving to drop the criminal charges and dilute the already paltry victims' compensation fund by using it instead for cleanup -- in effect making the victims pay. Two survivors and a medical worker are going into their 18th day of a hunger strike to demand just compensation and extradition of the CEO. One of the hunger strikers, Rashida Bi, lost five members of her family while the other, Tara Bai, lost the child she was carrying. If charges are dropped, it will establish a terrible precedent -- that corporations can get away with murder."

    Harrell is a toxics campaigner with Greenpeace USA. He said today: "The Indian government is under pressure from Dow Chemical, Carbide's new owner, to reduce the charges against then-CEO Warren Anderson.... Dow must continue to be held liable for the cleanup and ongoing disaster in Bhopal as hundreds of thousands continue to suffer from the grave ill effects of one of the worst incidents of industrial pollution."

    Wilson, who runs a shrimp boat in a Texas bay that Dow pollutes, has traveled to Bhopal to testify against the company. Tomorrow she will start a hunger strike at the Dow plant in Seadrift, Texas. She said today: "We are all human beings on this one planet. It's outrageous that the lives of people in India are so devalued."


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