April 17, 2013
Coalition against Bayer Dangers
Countermotion: The actions of the Board of Management are not ratified
The BAYER Group is responsible for many environmental and social problems. The Board of Management bears responsibility for this, and for this reason its actions should not be ratified. The following are examples of irresponsible group policies supported by the Board:
Labeling of genetically engineered products
BAYER contributed USD 2 million to a campaign operated by chemical corporations in the United States which resulted in an initiative to have genetically engineered food products labelled accordingly being defeated. Proposition 37, an initiative put forward in the federal state of California which called for mandatory European-style labelling, went to the ballot on Presidential Election Day, November 6. The companies invested more than USD 40 million in their advertising campaign, roughly ten times more than the proponents of the initiative.
This is a classic example of double standards. In Europe it goes without saying that genetically modified ingredients are declared on the labeling of a food product. In the United States, on the other hand, spurious arguments are put forward to prevent labeling of this kind. This tramples on the rights of consumers.
BAYER spent nearly EUR 10 billion in the last fiscal year on sales and advertising, a sum equivalent to more than one quarter of its entire sales. In the same period, only EUR 3 billion was spent on research and development.
This expense item includes the entire gray area of pharmaceutical marketing: medication samples, continuing education courses for physicians, pharmaceutical sales reps, donations to medical associations, support for self-help groups, expenditure on lobbying organizations etc.
In spite of these gigantic sums, stockholders have to make do with just eight lines of the Annual Report on the subject of this expense item (see page 213). BAYER has not published an informative breakdown of this figure, despite repeated requests by the Coordination gegen BAYER-Gefahren. It is an easy way to conceal enormous amounts of money and prevent them being scrutinized by stockholders or the public.
In the Annual Report, the Group states that the increase in sales and advertising costs by more than ten percent is due largely to the launch of new medicines such as Xarelto. Once again, it is clear that the high prices of medicines are due not to the cost of research but to exorbitant marketing.
Deformities caused by Duogynon/Primodos
The victims of the hormone-based pregnancy test Duogynon are not able to pursue legal action against BAYER further because of the five-figure costs involved. BAYER was only able to extract itself from the situation by claiming that the victims' claims are time-barred. Even the responsible judge at the Regional Court of Berlin, Dr. Holger Matthiessen, called on the company to approach the individuals affected, saying: "A globally operating corporation like BAYER should seek a dialogue, I can only urge you to do this!"
The dimensions of the Duogynon affair are comparable only to those of the thalidomide scandal. As with thalidomide, profits were generated for years with a medicine despite all the evidence of potential deformities.
Employees at Schering had warned of the risks associated with Duogynon at an early stage. In November 1967, a scientist working for Schering wrote in a letter to the company management: "The evident correlation between the increase in the number of deformities and sales of the pregnancy test would appear to be rather alarming." In 1969 the British regulatory authority Committee on Safety of Drugs requested Schering to provide the laboratory data for Duogynon. After the documentation had been evaluated, a warning was added to the box to the effect that the product should not be used during pregnancy because of the risk of malformations. Schering subsequently removed the indication pregnancy test in the United Kingdom but not in Germany.
It has also been claimed that Schering bribed scientists in the early 1980s to confirm that Duogynon was safe. Bayer has neither effectively contested this claim in court, nor has it disproved it publicly. In the most recent legal proceedings, a former Schering employee was named as a witness.
BAYER performs about six percent of all animal studies carried out in Germany. The Group "used" 147,000 animals last year, and a further 23,000 animals were used by external contract institutes. BAYER has repeatedly collaborated with controversial test laboratories such as Professional Laboratory and Research Services (PLRS) and Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), which are known for using methods which are cruel to animals.
The example of BAYER's product Lipobay shows that serious side effects cannot be predicted by animal experiments. BAYER had claimed "excellent tolerability" for this product following numerous animal studies. Yet Lipobay caused severe destruction of muscle and the consequent death of more than 100 patients.
Animal studies are irresponsible not only in terms of the animals involved but also in human terms. They do not benefit the safety of patients, they serve primarily to protect the legal position of the pharmaceutical manufacturer. Animal-based procedures are scientifically outdated and no longer ethically acceptable. BAYER is therefore called upon to transfer its pharmaceutical research to procedures which do not involve animals. Computer simulations, tests in cell cultures and tests using biochips are better able to illustrate the metabolism of new active substances in the human body than animal studies.
We request notification of these countermotions and the reasons for them pursuant to Sections 125, 126 of the German Stock Corporation Act (AktG).