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08/8/2022 | Organizing for a Just Recovery in Puerto Rico and Beyond


How Big Pharma HurtsWorkers, Dodges Taxes, and Extracts Billions in Puerto Rico

    US pharmaceutical corporations extract enormous profits and wealth from Puerto Rico. For decades, the pharmaceutical sector has dominated parts of the Puerto Rican economy. The Puerto Rican government has given away excessive tax breaks to pharmaceutical corporations like Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer to attract themto the archipelago. 

    The resulting economic rules unfairly favor wealthy pharmaceutical corporations over working families and small Puerto Rican-owned businesses— enriching CEOs and wealthy shareholders but exploiting Puerto Rican communities.

    Today Puerto Rico currently has nearly 50 FDA-approved pharmaceutical plants. In fact, Puerto Ricans produce more than half of the world’s top-selling prescription drugs, which are used to treat patients with arthritis, stroke, cancer, and more. Many of the working people fueling pharma’s profits in Puerto Rico face low salaries, inadequate or no benefits, unsafe working conditions, and no unions.

    This Hedge Clippers exposé draws on recent interviews with workers at pharmaceutical plants to reveal the pharma sector’s low road employment practices, especially among its subcontracted cleaning and security workers. The report also quantifies manufacturer tax breaks that pharmaceutical corporations take advantage of in PR—approximately $14.5 billion annually. These billions in corporate tax breaks eclipse the total operating budget of the Puerto Rican government7 and starve Puerto Rican communities of the investments in quality education, clean air and water, quality healthcare, and affordable housing that they deserve.