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What happened when East Germany nationalised its pharmaceutical industry?

The history of the Soviet German Democratic Republic reveals the benefits and shortfalls of state-owned drugmakers
What happened when East Germany nationalised its pharmaceutical industry?
  • The CEO of Roche has warned that waivers on Covid jabs would be a “catastrophe” akin to the GDR’s nationalised drug industry
  • But experts suggest the East German system was not a disaster and elements of it could be incorporated today

It was the spring of 1976 and an epidemic was sweeping through East Germany, but its residents had at least one reason to be thankful they were on their side of the Berlin wall. 

In the Soviet German Democratic Republic (GDR), unlike in capitalist West Germany, all healthcare and prescriptions were provided and paid for by the state – a potential lifesaver for its poorest citizens as the region battled an influenza outbreak.

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