Inhumane: Fire In The Blood tells of the scandal of big buck pharmaceutical companies charging prohibitively for drugs. *Photo supplied
Inhumane: Fire In The Blood tells of the scandal of big buck pharmaceutical companies charging prohibitively for drugs. *Photo supplied

Director: Dylan Mohan Gray
Showing: March 16 at 2pm at BUEI

Bermuda Docs offering Fire in the Blood will put fire in your belly.

Fire against the people and companies who not only put profits before lives, but put profits before millions of lives.

It exposes, for the first time, the scandal of muscling big buck pharmaceutical companies that use patent monopoly legislation to ban the production of generic drugs that are affordable to the world’s poorest. The result is millions of dead and dying and you can forget about turning to the authorities — a lap dog government paves the way for grinning fat cats to lap up the cream.

The documentary focuses on the HIV epidemic in Africa largely attributable to the prohibitive prices of anti-retroviral drugs manufactured by Pfizer.

The law allows them to drive up prices and trouser the profits while millions of people die needlessly.

A small capsule that could alleviate the pain and suffering of millions in Africa remained in the hands of only the rich as annual costs top $15,000. A study was undertaken to calculate how much the drug could be made without the obscene profits made by ‘pharmas’ and it was $1 a day — $365 a year compared to $15k.

One man defines it as genocide. Indian-Irish historian and filmmaker behind the doc —Dylan Mohan Gray — mirrors the sentiment calling it “the crime of the century”.

So what is happening to the profits made by these companies? Pfizer, which boasts being “the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company”, contributes a nominal percentage of its profits towards medical research — the rest is spent on exorbitant marketing budgets. The US government foots the bill for the majority of the research.

Fire In The Blood offers good, solid reporting. Among its distinguished interviewees and participants are Bill Clinton, who campaigned against patent  legislation, Nelson Mandela, who supports one of the activists, and former Pfizer Vice President Peter Rost who has distanced himself from the company.

When it comes to protecting the lives of Americans, then we see how the patent laws can be bent and it will make you sick to the stomach to see how one rule applies so differently to another when the tables are turned. Racist views come from those defending the status quo using arguments like the poorest Africans are unable to tell the time never mind read the instructions for a course of medicine.

Indian physicist Yusuf Hamied is a central character in the documentary — his company Cipla fought to produce cheaper drugs and distribute them.

The tone of the documentary is fairly dry and factual, letting the information speak for itself.

While it’s easy to lose faith in humanity, we see the lengths some men will go to see justice done as one activist puts his life on the line.

The documentary takes you through a messy tangle of court cases, activism and  prison stretches and we end realizing that this case is just the tip of the iceberg as other drugs are quickly thrust under the patent laws. Watching the credits until the end you will read the warning to the pharmaceutical companies “help prevent a sequel.”