Increasing Availability Of Essential Medicines Critical To Global Health Security

Project Syndicate: How to Boost Access to Essential Medicines
Justus Haucap, professor of economics at Heinrich-Heine University

“…[L]ow- and middle-income countries … need help improving drug delivery and managing chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes, which impose an immense burden on their economies. … Unfortunately, the WHO’s leadership, like much of the West, … has been distracted by an ideological obsession with drug prices. … [P]ublic health analysts have identified a handful of structural reforms that would largely eliminate existing bottlenecks that are hindering the distribution of essential medicines. The first trouble spot is infrastructure. … A second problem, even in areas with adequate infrastructure, is the prevalence of bureaucratic and economic barriers that limit access to essential medicines. … A third problem is that there are too few health care workers. … Flawed — or nonexistent — health-finance schemes are the fourth, and perhaps the largest, barrier to drug delivery in many countries. … Increasing the availability of essential medicines is imperative for improving health care outcomes for hundreds of millions of people around the world. … We can do much to close the global health security gap; but undermining patent protections for new drugs will do precisely the opposite” (11/9).