AstraZeneca

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on global corporations.

AstraZeneca is a global pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporation with headquarters in the United Kingdom. The company specializes in drugs for gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neurology, respiratory, infection and oncology. The company's biggest seller Nexium, for acid reflux. AstraZeneca also sells the heart and hypertension drug, Atacand and the cholesterol drug Crestor. Other top selling drugs include include Seroquel for schizophrenia and bipolar, Symbicort and Pulmicort for asthma and Arimidex for breast cancer therapy. The company's drugs are marketed in over 100 countries.

In the fiscal year ending in December of 2009, AstraZeneca reported sales of 32.8 billion dollars and had 63,000 employees. [1]

Pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca and Novartis are the parent companies of Syngenta, a Swiss global agribusiness company formed in 2000 from the agrochemical and seed divisions of Novartis, and the agrochemicals and biotechnology research divisions of AstraZeneca. Syngenta is the world’s second biggest player in agrochemicals and the third biggest seed producer. [2] Syngenta was the first global group focusing exclusively on agribusiness. [3]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

AstraZeneca is a corporate member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and of its Health and Human Services Task Force.[4] Mark DiMaio, Associate Director of State Government Affairs at AstraZeneca, is the ALEC State corporate co-chair of Delaware.[5] His legislative counterpart in Delaware is Rep. Daniel Short (R-39).
[6]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.

Financial Support for ALEC

  • In the first quarter of 2008 AstraZeneca gave $1,000 to ALEC for "Advocacy, Education and Outreach Activities." [7]
  • In the third quarter of 2008 AstraZeneca gave $5,000 to ALEC for their annual meeting, $500 for OK. Scholarships, $1,000 for KS. Scholarships, and $1,000 MO. Night Informational Exchange. [8]

Animal testing

AstraZeneca does animal testing.

Facility information, progress & USDA-APHIS reports

This facility performed animal experiments involving pain or distress but no analgesics, anesthetics or pain relievers were administered. For links to copies of this facility's U.S. Department of Agriculture-Animal Plant Health Inspection (APHIS) reports, other information and links, see also Facility Reports & Information, Astra Zeneca, Inc, Wilmington, DE. [9]

USDA AWA reports

As of May 26, 2009, the USDA began posting all inspection reports for animal breeders, dealers, exhibitors, handlers, research facilities and animal carriers by state. See also USDA Animal Welfare Inspection Reports.

Contract testing

AstraZeneca contract tests out to Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). [10] HLS is the 3rd largest contract research organization (CRO) in the world and the largest animal testing facility in all of Europe. Firms hire HLS to conduct animal toxicity tests for agrochemicals, petrochemicals, household products, pharmaceutical drugs and toxins. HLS has a long history of gross animal welfare violations. See also Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Food safety issues

Syngenta inherits the dubious legacies of both parent companies, promoters of GMO (genetically modified organism) technology and manufacturers of hazardous chemicals (paraquat and atrazine11). In the late 1990s Novartis and AstraZeneca wanted to establish themselves as "lifesciences" companies in order to exploit potential synergies between their pharmaceutical, chemical and agricultural sectors. Both invested heavily in acquiring seed and biotechnology companies. The Syngenta spin-off was a result of the poor performance of both companies' agribusiness divisions in 1999 and at least partially due to the global backlash against GM crops.

The creation of Syngenta enabled the parent companies to make considerable savings and rid themselves of their controversial agricultural biotechnology ventures. Syngenta has so far managed to avoid the public vilification of Monsanto, while it quietly develops controversial agricultural biotechnology, including genetic use restriction technologies (GURTs)/traitor technology. [11]

Global GMOs & herbicide market

The top biotechnology companies are Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and Bayer. (Syngenta is a subsidiary of parent companies AstraZeneca and Novartis. Aventis' agribusiness division was bought out by Bayer.) They account for almost 100% of the genetically engineered seed and 60% of the global pesticide market. Thanks to recent acquisitions, they now own 23% of the commercial seed market. In 1999, almost 80% of total global transgenic acreage was planted in GMO soy, corn, cotton and canola. Until then, farmers could spray herbicides before planting, but not after, as herbicides would kill the intended crop. The other 20% of genetically modified acreage is planted with crops that produce pesticides. Monsanto’s "New Leaf" potato kills potato beetles, but is itself registered as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The five largest biotech companies in the world are also the five largest herbicide companies. GMOs ensure a continuous and ever-expanding market for their agrochemicals. [12]

Under current policy, the government provides large subsidies to farmers to produce grains, in particularly corn and soybeans. Livestock producers use corn and soy as a base for animal feed as they are protein rich and fatten up the animals. They are also cheap (due to government subsidies.) Livestock consumes 47% of the soy and 60% of the corn produced in the US. [13] See also Food and Drug Administration.

Human rights & environmental abuses

Activists demand Syngenta leave Brazil

In December of 2007, hundreds of activists broke into AstraZeneca subsidiary Syngenta's agrochemical plant in Sao Paulo, Brazil. According to a company spokesperson, 50 employees were expelled and production was shut down. Members of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) and its allied group Via Campesina, destroyed genetically-modified corn and soy seedlings at a Syngenta farm in the northeastern state of Ceara. The groups accused Syngenta of attacking landless workers and violating environmental laws and demanded that Syngenta leave Brazil.

Activist shot and killed protesting GMO fields

In October of 2007, an activist was shot and killed during a protest at a Syngenta farm in the southern Parana state. According to the MST, the farm illegally produced genetically modified crops (GMO)'s within a protected environmental zone close to the internationally acclaimed Iguacu water falls. The Paraná State Federal Justice decided that experiments with GMOs in the surroundings of the Iguaçú National Park are illegal. According to Judge Vanessa Hoffman, the park has a a 10 km buffer zone and the company was fined R$ 1 million by Brazilian environmental authorities.

Syngenta is the world's largest agrochemical company. According to a company statement, it was "dismayed by the occupations" but denied any participation in the October shooting death. According to activists, the company's private security force at the farm were responsible for the shooting death of Valmir Mota de Oliveira. The MST and other groups frequently occupy farms, block highways, torch crops and stage rallies to pressure the government to give land to the poor. In response, landowners hire armed guards and hit squads to repel invasions. Landless militants have also blocked railroads run by Brazilian mining companies, interupting the flow of iron ore to foreign markets.

Industry and agricultural lobbyists have urged the government to crack down on landless movements, as they "undermine investment conditions in Brazil." [14]

Public relations & lobbying

Americans for Medical Progress's (AMP) board of directors consists of senior executives and other representatives employed by the pharmaceutical and vivisection industries. Board members represent multinational, billion dollar corporations as well as universities and institutions receiving government grants for vivisection. [15] AMP runs media campaigns targeting animal rights, welfare and health advocacy groups. See also Americans for Medical Progress.

The company spent $2,840,000 for lobbying in 2006. In-house lobbyists along with 6 lobbying firms were used, including Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti. [16]

Political contributions

AstraZeneca gave $1,378,313 to federal candidates in the 2010 election through its political action committee - 51% to Democrats and 48% to Republicans. [17]

Corporate Donations

AstraZeneca donates their products to AmeriCares.

Board

Accessed July 2012: [18]

Personnel

Key executives

Key executives & pay

  • David R. Brennan - CEO & Director, $3,210,000
  • John Patterson - Executive Director, Drug Development, $ 1,580,000
  • David Smith - Executive VP, Operations [20]

Board members

Contact

AstraZeneca
15 Stanhope Gate
London
W1K 1LN, United Kingdom

Phone: +44-20-7304-5000

Fax: +44-20-7304-5151

Web address: http://www.astrazeneca.com

Articles & sources

SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Company Description: AstraZeneca, Hoovers, accessed January 2011
  2. Syngenta: A Corporate Profile, Corporate Watch, November 2002
  3. "Company History", Syngenta, accessed December 2008.
  4. American Legislative Exchange Council, HHS Task Force, June 29, 2011, organizational membership spreadsheet, June 29, 2011, p. 32, obtained and released by Common Cause April 2012
  5. American Legislative Exchange Council, "Solutions for the States," 38th Annual Meeting agenda, on file with CMD, August 3-6, 2011
  6. American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC State Chairmen, organization website, accessed June 30, 2011
  7. 2008 January - June, Astrazenica.com, September 9, 2008
  8. July-December, Astrazenica.com, September 9, 2011
  9. Facility Reports and Information: Astra Zeneca, Inc, Wilmington, DE, Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, accessed October 2009
  10. Inside Customers, SHAC.net, accessed December 2009
  11. Syngenta: A Corporate Profile, Corporate Watch, November 2002
  12. John Robbins Genetic Engineering, Part I, The Food Revolution, accessed December 2009
  13. The Issues: Corn and Soy, Sustainable Table, accessed December 2009
  14. Raymond Colitt, Vicki Allen Brazil's landless peasants occupy Syngenta plants, Reuters, December 2007
  15. Board of Directors, Americans for Medical Progress, accessed January 2011
  16. AstraZeneca lobbying expenses, Open Secrets, accessed August 2007
  17. 2010 PAC Summary Data, Open Secrets, accessed January 2011
  18. AstraZeneca Board, organizational web page, accessed July 5, 2012.
  19. Company Description: AstraZeneca, Hoovers, accessed January 2011
  20. AstraZeneca Key Executives, Yahoo Finance, accessed August 2007.
  21. Board of Directors, AstraZeneca, accessed January 2011

External articles

External resources