Should poor governments be allowed to break drug patents for humanitarian reasons? That question is front-and-center at a major public health conference sponsored by the World Health Organization that started on 28 April in Geneva. Top-notch policy experts from around the world have gathered to make formal policy recommendations about patents to Third World governments struggling with disease. Many will claim that patents allow Western drug companies to keep drug prices artificially high, and that patent-breaking is a cheap and easy way to get poor patients the drugs they need. Theyâ€™re wrong on both counts. For starters, the drugs needed in the developing world arenâ€™t patent protected. A 2004 study published in the journal Health Affairs showed that less than 2 percent of the 319 prescription drugs on the WHOâ€™s Model List of Essential Medicines are actually under patent. (…) Just a few months ago, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Merck donated $450 million in medicines to Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world. These sorts of philanthropic efforts are less likely if drug companies start struggling just to break even. Image source: en.afrik.com. > Continue.
30 04 2008