various articles on problems caused by Bayer
100 Years of Aspirin - White Pills with Dirty Spots
BAYER is celebrating its anniversary. One hundred years ago Felix Hoffmann, a BAYER employee, produced acetylsalicylic acid, better known as the global sales leader ASPIRIN. The medication, considered the "flagship" of the company by BAYER, is a global hit, although it is often by no means healthy and is still aggressively advertised.The marketing of ASPIRIN for children in the Third World shows the "responsible trade" throughout the world. Although the international experts warn of use of acetylsalicylic acid in children due to its many risks, BAYER continues to offer special ASPIRIN preparations for children in the Third World - exactly the target group for whom acetylsalicylic acid is dangerous. The safety warnings, which recommend extremely limited use with children and are so common in Germany and many other countries, are no where to be found in the Third World. According to BAYER, ASPIRIN is the medicine of choice for people (even children) suffering from pain, fever, colds and flu.
In Latin America alone, millions of children are subjected to grave health risks, since ASPIRIN is the best-selling medicine with an all- healing image there despite the fact that other healthier alternatives exist.
The BUKO Pharma-Campaign, the Medical Initiative from terre des hommes, and the COALITION AGAINST BAYER DANGERS have been taking a critical look at the children's ASPIRIN products for the past two years. In regards to their advertising for children's ASPIRIN, BAYER has announced that although the claims could not be proven, they have "made changes" where the impression could be given that it is a consumer advertisement. In a letter from BAYER to the Medical Initiative from terre des hommes in July 1997, they claim:
"We can therefore assure you that no more consumer advertising for children's ASPIRIN exists in South America". This is apparently not the case. A member of the COALITION found a one page, color advertisement for ASPIRINA PARA NINOS (ASPIRIN for children) in the daily newspaper Prensa libre of Guatemala in October 1997.
The ad opens with a painting contest for children about peace with flowers and doves and suggests: "Peace - BAYER and ASPIRIN for children". An obvious case of consumer advertising.
BAYERgate in Portugal
BAYER has admitted that they have supported the "further education" of doctors in Portugal by paying for trips throughout the world. Even in Germany and other countries, generous gifts by the pharmaceuticals giant in Leverkusen (as well as other companies) influence the prescription writing of the medical profession.
According to former pharmaceuticals salesman Alfredo Pequito, BAYER invested approximately DM 100,000 in the first 5 months of 1995 to promote the prescribing of CIPROXINA in Portugal. BAYER vehemently denies these claims and is planning on filing libel charges against Pequito, who in turn has handed over evidence supporting his claims to the court. The Portuguese media is calling the affair "BAYERgate" and have uncovered other companies who also distribute similar generous gifts.
With all of its attempts to refute the claims, BAYER has just added more fuel to the fire. Although regional director Giovanni Fenu has energetically denied the bribing of hundreds of Portuguese doctors with gifts such as gold balances, televisions, video cassette recorders, and other presents, he has put a stop to the financing of "further education trips" to conferences and conventions all over the world. According to BAYER, the doctors who had been invited were not expected to do anything in return, so no laws were broken. The head of the Portuguese State Medical Board Carlos Ribeira sees things differently. The documents bring the ethical and moral ideals of the medical profession in question, he said, and he has announced that he intends to take legal action. The public prosecutors and the Ministry of Health have also begun investigations. After all, even the travel contributions that were paid by BAYER, according to Pequito's statement, are not legal.
The ex-BAYER employee reports that amounts of up to DM 5,000 were deposited in travel agencies for various doctors. The money was not always used for conventions, but were used for other uses such as family trips or even exchanged for cash.
Bribery and corruption are not exactly rare in the pharmaceuticals industry. Insiders speak of a "common global practice". No other science is so dependent on the industry as medicine is. Research at universities and learning hospitals is practically unthinkable without so- called "second-hand" medicine.
The bribe money scandal in Portugal is therefore only the tip of the iceberg. Alfredo Pequito, who bravely withstood pressure and uncovered the practices, has been living in fear. He and his family have recently received death threats - anonymous of course.
Opposition against Bayer's plans in Taiwan
(more info see below)
Two years ago Bayer started to make plans for a giant TDI (Toluylendiisocyanat) plant in Taichung, Taiwan. The factory was supposed to produce 100.000 metric tons of TDI per year and would have been the second biggest in the world. From the beginning on there was a lot of resistance in Taiwan against this project (there were demonstrations with up to 4.000 people), especially because of the threats of phosgene. Although there are ways of producing TDI without phosgene, Bayer would hold on to this dangerous method.
The company told the public that there is absolutely no risk and no possibility for an accident. Cordinationa against BAYER-dangers cooperated closely with the Taiwanese initiative Anti BAYER-Action Union.
In June 1997 a big accident occured in Bayer's brand-new TDI plant in Dormagen (near Cologne, Germany). 12 tons of cancerogenic TDA
(a side-product) exploded, burned and covered the ground of a big area.
This explosion was also recognized in Taiwan since it contradicted to all of Bayer's previous statements. The approval of the Taiwanese government was delayed. In Dezember 1997 Bayer announced they would abandon their plans in Taiwan and expand their TDI plant in Baytown/Texas instead. This plant is already the biggest in the world. CBG suspects that the problems now will only be shifted from Taiwan to Texas and will support all groups resisting to BAYER.
Chemicals Not Examined For Health Dangers
71 % of the 3,000 most common industrial chemicals on the US market have never been tested for dangerous health risks. BAYER products are naturally among them. The study "Toxic Ignorance", which was introduced by the American ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND (EDF) in Washington, came to this conclusion. The speaker for the initiative appeared angered that the chemical industry has remained idle despite the last study that was published in 1984 and offered similarly alarming numbers.
Genetic Engineering Industries Hire PR Agency
EuropaBio, the main lobby organization for the European biotech industry, which include such well-known companies as MONSANTO, HOECHST, NESTLE and UNILEVER as well as BAYER, has hired the PR firm BURSON MARSTELLER in order to improve the bad image of biotechnology (and most especially genetically engineered food).
The PR strategy proposal, which was leaked to GREENPEACE, recommends that the industry avoid hot topics ("killing fields") such as discussions about the risks of biotechnology and instead emphasize the positive benefits such as the creation of jobs. They also especially recommended using ecological arguments while doing so.
BAYER invests in the ASEAN Region
BAYER wants to invest 1 billion German marks in Asia and increase their regional shareholdings by a minimum of 25% despite the present unstable Asian economy. The company's activities are focused on Thailand, Taiwan, China, and Japan.
Joint Venture in China
Why should BAYER be bothered by human rights violations in China? BAYER has created a joint venture with SHANGHAI ZHONGXI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., in which BAYER holds 70% of the shares. The company should produce mainly pesticides.
BAYER Recalls Prolastin Due to Possible Creutzfeldt-Jacob Contamination According to BAYER, the company has recalled 3 margins of its plasma product PROLASTIN among ALPHA-1 patients in America, because some plasma donors were later diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD). The disease can only be diagnosed after a patient dies - not while he or she is alive. There are therefore no statistics available on possible CJD infections.
07 March 1998
Indian Express Newspapers
Taiwan revives controversial Bayer project
Taipei, March 6: Taiwan's provincial assembly on Friday approved land leases to allow German giant Bayer AG to build a controversial US$1.5 billion chemical plant despite intense environmental opposition.
But the long-frustrated project still faced obstacles, as the county government presiding over the project's site in central Taichung vowed to deny construction permits unless the project is approved by a local referendum.
Deputies from Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party managed to get the leases approved by resorting to a tactic that provoked an immediate and angry reaction -- calling for a vote at the start of a session before opponents had time to assemble.
The legislation was approved by a 24-2 vote only five minutes into the session following a break. The move sparked shouting and pushing matches between deputies.
"We feel the Nationalist Party violated assembly procedures by forcing through legislation in this manner," said opposition Democratic Progressive Party deputy YangChin-hsing.
Assembly chairman Liu Ping-wei, a Nationalist, said his party's strategy was within rules.
"The vote was taken in accordance with all procedural regulations," Liu said.A top Bayer foe, Taichung county magistrate Liao Yung-lai of the Democratic Progressives, said after the vote he would demand a local referendum to decide the project's fate -- and pledged to accept the outcome.
"If the project does not pass the referendum, the county government will not issue construction permits," Liao said. "If it does pass, we will comply with the assembly's decision." Hundreds of Bayer opponents gathered outside the assembly hall were kept away by large numbers of police, some in riot gear. Aside from shoving and angry words, the gathering was peaceful.
Executives of Bayer were unavailable for immediate comment.
Taiwan's government has steadfastly opposed putting the proposed plant to a local popular vote, saying the project had cleared all necessary legal and environmental hurdles and that publicinput into the approval process had been extensive.
Bayer, frustrated by three years of opposition, in December suspended plans for the Taichung plant to make toluene di-isocyanate, or TDI, saying it would opt for an alternative site in the US state of Texas.
In January, Bayer said the Taichung project could be revived -- but only if Taiwan approved land leases in February and issued construction permits in March. The provincial assembly, which meets in Taichung, failed on February 26 to approve the leases, postponing debate to Monday and reviving prospects that the project would collapse.
Opponents said they fear Bayer's TDI production will create toxic pollution in already polluted Taichung harbour.
Bayer executives counter that the plant would be safer and cleaner than Bayer TDI plant anywhere in the world -- including Japan and the West where environmental standards are toughest. Bayer, keen for a source of TDI in Asia, said it had spent more than US$10 million over three years to conductenvironmental studies and other research for the proposed project.TDI is a chemical used in producing synthetic leather.