Can Universities Make Sure That Drugs Based On Their Research Are Licensed Reasonably?

from the probably-not dept

Joseph Franklin has written about how a group of universities have agreed to some basic principles (pdf) about providing drugs to developing nations at reasonable costs (or even free) in the interest of better global healthcare. However, Franklin wonders how well this will work in practice, and why it should only apply to developing nations, and not domestically as well. It's an interesting question, made more complicated by the fact that many drugs have their research started at universities -- frequently backed by government money -- but are later taken over by pharmaceutical companies who have no interest in such principles. I tend to think that such "principles" are nice to speak about, but are rarely effective in actually creating change. I would think that a much stronger argument is showing the economic benefits in keeping people alive. If you could rid some developing nations of certain diseases, you'd be able to open up vast new markets for other industries. Hell, imagine if you could get companies in other industries (food, clothing, transportation, etc.) to pay for drugs for the poor in developing nations, knowing that keeping them healthy will help those nations build their economy so they can start purchasing the same food, clothing and transportation...
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Filed Under: developing nations, drugs, licenses, patents, universities

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  1. identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, 25 Nov 2009 @ 1:51am

    “Enlightened” Self-Interest?

    As far as companies are concerned, the “economic benefits” in keeping people alive are directly related to their purchasing power. That’s why almost nothing has been spent on diseases like tuberculosis and malaria, which kill millions every year, while billions go into drugs like Viagra, even though nobody ever died from the inability to get a stiff cock. It’s because all those deaths are of poor people in the Third World who have essentially no discretionary income anyway.

    Sure, you could say in the long term, if those poor people can stay alive and build up their economies to the point that they become affluent and able to spend money on your products, then surely there’s benefit to you. But that’s long-term thinking, which companies are inherently incapable of.

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