Tuesday, November 25, 2003

I read last month how former President Bill Clinton brokered a landmark AIDS drugs deal. The BBC noted Four companies that produce generic Aids drugs have agreed to reduce the cost of the drugs for millions of people in developing countries and Nine countries in the Caribbean, as well as Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania will receive the low-cost medication. Interestingly, it added Analysts say the companies are able to provide the drugs at cheaper prices by cutting marketing and distribution costs because the treatments are so well known there is no need for them to be advertised.

As much as giant pharmaceuticals say they can't may their medication affordable because of "research and development," I'd love to know how much they spend on advertising versus R&D.

And when there is R&D, it's on drugs for "western" (rich nation) problems like Viagra rather than on "southern" (poor nation) problems like malaria and tuberculosis. This market-driven approach is not likely to change, absent a campaign of public pressure. This is why there needs to be better public funding of international research on "southern" diseases, since purely leaving it in the hands of the market is going to do nothing for the sick of the "southern" world.

Anyway, this is the sort of thing Bill Clinton is doing in his ex-presidency. But hey, it's important to keep things in perspective. Remember, he boinked an intern!!

The New Internationalist magazine did an expose on some of big pharma's practices.

No comments: