BDS’er, get off those drugs!

The Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) campaign, which started in 2005, has called for “people of conscience all over the world to launch broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and to demand sanctions against Israel …”

Without addressing the moral ramifications of boycotting Israeli industry or the negative impact such a boycott may have on Israel’s Arab population, or Palestinian Arabs, I want to encourage the so called, “people of conscience” to be consistent in their boycott, by boycotting the Israeli pharmaceutical industry.

drugs (Medium)
Israeli-made medicine. Avraham Hermon, 2014

One of the major players in the worldwide drug industry is Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd., an Israeli company. According to its website, Teva fills 1 out of every 6 generic prescriptions in the US and Canada. Generic drugs, in 2012, made up 84% of all prescriptions filled in the US. So in the US, 14% of all prescriptions were filled by an Israeli company. If you live in the US and you bought 7 prescription drugs over the course of the year, chances are that one of them was made by Teva. If you live in Europe, you very well could have bought prescription medications made by Teva. Teva Europe has supplied over 1000 doses of medicine per second (!) to European customers.

But Teva’s impact on the pharmaceutical market is not limited to finished medicines. Teva is also a leading global supplier of active ingredients to other drug manufacturers. Therefore, there is a chance that active ingredients of pharmaceutical products sold by non-Israeli manufacturers are, in fact, Israeli-made. If you are truly, “people of conscience,” make sure that your local drug companies do not source active pharmaceutical ingredients from Israel. Drug companies will typically not disclose on their product label which company or country supplies their active ingredient. Perhaps you should boycott all medicines just in case the active ingredient is made by Teva? Isn’t it best just to be on the safe side?

But wait, that’s not all. In addition to Teva there are other Israeli companies (such as Taro, Dexcel and Perrigo, to name a few) that sell pharmaceuticals in the US, Europe and other international markets. Does your pharmacy supply drugs from these internationally-known Israeli companies? If you are administered drugs in a hospital, dear “people of conscience,” do you make sure that these drugs are not manufactured by an Israeli company?

What about drugs that were invented by Israeli universities? Copaxone and Interferon were both invented at the Weizmann Institute, in Israel. If you or someone you know suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, chances are that one of these drugs has been administered. Does your conscience require you to boycott those drugs too? Perhaps Israeli universities are earning royalties from your purchase of those drugs?

In summary, dear BDS’er, please be consistent. If you are truly people of conscience, do get off those drugs, as soon as possible.


* Special thanks to Kenichi Hartman for being the impetus behind this post.

About the Author
Husband, Father of 7, marathoner, unicyclist, patent attorney, home-brewer, scribe, photographer, ex-pat American, Israeli settling the land, attempted creative thinker and entrepreneur