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Governments, Not Private Sector, Remain ‘Biggest Barriers’ To Expanding Access To Medicines

Las Vegas Sun: U.N. taking foolish approach to improving delivery of medicines to developing countries
Joseph Allen, consultant and former head of the National Technology Transfer Center

“In developing countries, roughly one in three people lack dependable access to ‘essential’ medicines — a category that includes a range of things from ibuprofen to HIV/AIDS treatments. The United Nations hopes to address this global crisis through its High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines, which is expected to issue recommendations in the coming weeks. … [G]overnments — and not private research firms — are often the biggest barriers to expanding the availability of medicines. According to the World Health Organization, the main reasons the developing world lacks access to basic medicines are an inability to select and use those medicines rationally, unaffordable drug prices, inadequate financing, and unreliable health and supply systems. … As for the matter of affordability, the WHO points out that taxes, tariffs, and other government policies play a significant role in keeping drug prices so high in the developing world. … The U.N. should have looked at all of these factors. It chose, instead, to reinforce a counterproductive narrative in which patents are the enemy of medical access…” (6/11).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.