Thursday, 6 January 2011

Big Pharma, Big Question: Access to Medicine


 Simon Nkoli died at the age of forty-one. The year was 1998. Cause of death, AIDS. He was not the only one. The HIV/AIDS pandemic was running rampant at the time. Hundreds of thousands in Nkoli’s home nation of South Africa had already contracted the disease. Millions more around the world were falling victim too.

The human immunodeficiency virus that lies at the root of the AIDS disease is indiscriminate. Rich or poor, developing world or developed, HIV ruthlessly eats away at the immune system. The pharmaceutical trade, in contrast, is heavily discriminate.

As Nkoli lay dying, patients in richer countries with better health systems were fighting off the disease. Behind their successful struggle lay groundbreaking anti-retroviral drugs. Developed at great expense, the drugs did not come cheap. Access, logically, was restricted to those with deep pockets.

Nkoli, an apartheid activist and gay rights campaigner, didn’t think restricting access to life-saving drugs was fair. Again, he was not alone. His death triggered a small but influential group of gay activists to establish the Treatment Action Campaign. The Campaign’s message was straightforward: increase access to HIV treatment. The idea found a passionate and influential advocate in the then president, Nelson Mandela.

Fast forward three years and the scene had expanded in scope and profile. Around the world, manufacturers of generic drugs were popping up with low-cost alternatives to Big Pharma’s antiretrovirals. A new law in South Africa could, theoretically, open the door to the import of the cheap generics.

Activists and HIV/AIDS sufferers saw the move as a lifeline. The pharmaceutical industry saw it as the death knell. Amassing their collective weight, 39 international pharmaceutical companies challenged the South African government in the courts. The global reaction was immediate. And it did not lie in the companies’ favour. Big Pharma quickly, albeit reluctantly, backed down.

Ethical Corporation’s recent ‘Classic Case Studies’ picks up the story from there, describing how the global pharmaceutical industry has had to develop new business models to deal with changing societal expectations.

Like all CSR stories from the last decade, the industry’s journey has been an iterative one. From philanthropically-motivated donation programmes, Big Pharma has experimented with price innovations, patent pools and new research streams. By its own confession, it hasn’t yet got all the answers.

A recent report by the World Health Organisation finds many essential medicines remain “unaffordable” to poor people. If practices don’t change, UN Millennium Goals on access to medicine will fall wide of the mark.

The lessons from the story are multiple and open-ended. More must come. This is an evolving story. Yet what all the various parties agree – companies, governments, citizen groups and health agencies – is that collaborative solutions hold the most hope.

Today, the pharmaceutical industry boasts some of the largest and most serious cross-sectoral initiatives of any industry. Low medicinal access is not just an issue of high prices. Weak health infrastructure and sub-standard local capacity play their part too. Working together could just resolve these.

It’s too late for Simon Nkoli. But not necessarily for the millions of others currently suffering from treatable diseases.

n.b. other stories from the Classic Case Studies report include the Bhopal disaster, Exxon Valdez, the McLibel case, Brent Spar, Monsanto’s European fall out over genetic engineering, the Kimberley process, Trafigura’s toxic spillage and Toyota’s global recall.


15 comments:

  1. In the absence of a sophisticated 'business case' for big pharma that demonstrates what's in it for them, perhaps we need to resort to the bottom line. One 'collaborative solution' that fits might be the Health Impact Fund - www.healthimpactfund.org It's the brainchild of Professor Pogge at Yale and is an ambitious proposal based on providing better financial incentives for pharma companies to deliver health benefits in developing countries.

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    Replies
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  2. Thanks for mentioning the Health Impact Fund. We see this as a permanent structural fix of the innovation/access dilemma. It makes important new medicines available from day 1 at the cost of production -- and it still rewards innovators for their work of research, development, and clinical testing. These rewards come not from mark-ups of the product, but as shares of annual reward pools that get divided among registered products according to their measured health impact. These reward pools are funded by many governments (according to their countries' gross national income) and guaranteed in advance. This Health Impact Fund system would (1) stimulate much more attention to the diseases of the poor (against which huge health impacts can be realized); (2) make important new drugs affordable even to poor people; and (3) encourage innovators to do much more to ensure that their medicines are optimally used (after they've been sold). Do check it out at www.healthimpactfund.org.

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  3. i never belive i am going to be cure, dr.odudu has so much made me belive in him. thanks so much for bringing back my happiness.

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  5. I have been suffering from (HERPES) disease for the last four years and had constant pain, especially in my knees. During the first year,I had faith in God that i would be healed someday.This disease started circulate all over my body and i have been taking treatment from my doctor, few weeks ago i came on search on the internet if i could get any information concerning the prevention of this disease, on my search i saw a testimony of someone who has been healed from (Hepatitis B and Cancer) by this Man Dr ADE and she also gave the email address of this man and advise we should contact him for any sickness that he would be of help, so i wrote to Dr. ADE telling him about my (HERPES Virus) he told me not to worry that i was going to be cured!! hmm i never believed it,, well after all the procedures and remedy given to me by this man few weeks later i started experiencing changes all over me as the Dr assured me that i have cured,after some time i went to my doctor to confirmed if i have be finally healed behold it was TRUE, So friends my advise is if you have such sickness or any other at all you can email Dr.ADE on : Adespelltemple@gmail.com sir i am indeed grateful for the help i will forever recommend you to my friends!!! with your lovely Email Address Adespelltemple@gmail.com or call He on +2347057375409

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  6. Hello Everyone out there,I am here to give my testimony about a Herbalist doctor who helped me . I was infected with HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS in 2011, i went to many hospitals for cure but there was no solution, so I was thinking how can I get a solution out so that my body can be okay. One day I was in the river side thinking where I can go to get solution. so a lady walked to me telling me why am I so sad and i open up all to her telling her my problem, she told me that she can help me out, she introduce me to a doctor who uses herbal medication to cure HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS and gave me his email, so i mail him. He told me all the things I need to do and also give me instructions to take, which I followed properly. Before I knew what is happening after two weeks the HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS that was in my body got vanished . so if you are also heart broken and also need a help, you can also email him at {oliha.miraclemedicine@gmail.com}
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  9. Thank you Dr. Okuns, your herbal medicine is a good remedy for herpes cure, and Removing Warts! You can contact Dr. Okuns via E-mail: herbal.home247@yahoo.com for any types of diseases solutions or WhatsApp him on: +2348078467513

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  10. I am Matthias lang, from Orlando u s a, i suffered from schizophrenia
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  11. My name is Emilia Peters, I am here to give my testimony about a doctor who helped me in my life. I was infected with HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS in 2015, i went to many hospitals for cure but there was no solution, so I was thinking how can I get a solution out so that my body can be okay. One day I was in the river side thinking where I can go to get solution. so a lady walked to me telling me why am I so sad and i open up all to her telling her my problem, she told me that she can help me out, she introduce me to a doctor who uses herbal medication to cure HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS and gave me his email, so i mail him. He told me all the things I need to do and also give me instructions to take, which I followed properly. Before I knew what is happening after two weeks the HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS that was in my body got vanished . so if you are also heart broken and also need a help, you can also email him at:drejiehiwaseharbalcenter@gmail.com or call him or talk with him through wasap on +2347067607558
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  12. . I GOT CURED OF HERPES AFTER USING DR OOSA HERBAL MEDICINE.

    I caught genital herpes from my ex boyfriend who never had any symptoms. I have had it for 4 months now,and it has affected my life. I have told my husband who I trusted about it and I have never had a bad reaction, it has affected my new relationships with my husband. People think herpes is really a minor skin irritation herpes has a long term effects on health. The stigma attached to this virus by ignorant people is ridiculous. Most people have herpes in one form or another. I would like to advise people on how i get rid of my herpes.i was reading a comment on the internet,and i saw a testimony posted by a woman from island that she get rid of her herpes with the help of doctor oosa. so i was so happy when i saw that post,that his herbal medication is free.i quickly collect the herbal doctor email and i email him within 5 hr he respond to my email.i explain things to him he told me not to worry that i should fill his herbal form wish i did.he only request for little money that he will use to buy the items for the preparation of the herbal medicine,wish i send to him because the pain was too much for me to bear.after some days he told me that he has prepare the herbal medicine,that i should send him my address that he want to sent it to me via DHL or FED-EX that was how i got the herbal medication.and i use it as i was told.after few days i found out that my herpes was no more.when some of my friend who has herpes saw me they were surprise and i also introduce them to the man and they are also cure from the same herpes.if you have herpes,kindly contact doctor oosa via this email doctoroosaherbalhome@gmail.com . i know people might be wondering why posting such things online but i am gland and i want each and everyone living with herpes to know that there's herpes cure because i have suffer for so many years searching for this cure.

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  13. I was diagnosed of herpes in 2015 and I tried all possible means to get cure but all to no avail until i saw a post in a health forum about a herbal doctor from Africa who prepare herbal medicine to cure all kind of diseases including herpes virus, at first i doubted if it was real but decided to give it a try, when i contact this herbal doctor via his email i bought the herpes herbal medicine and received it through DHL within 3 days and used it as prescribed,
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  14. GET RID OF HERPES BY A HERBALIST DOCTOR CALL DR EGBE.
    IVANA ALENA" I want to give almighty praise to DR EGBE who cure me from herpes. He is a great man who God send from heaven to save people’s life, when i contacted this deadly virus disease i thought that was the end of the world for me little did I know that there is a man called DR EGBE who has made a breakthrough in the cure of herpes with the help of herbal treatment which I confided in a friend in south Africa he told me about this man called DR EGBE and how he cured the mum and dad from genital herpes after many years of living with this deadly diseases he told me of the cost and procedure I felt it worth a try after I have been spending so much on medical drugs to make me live like every normal human being so I contacted DR EGBE and did as he commanded without missing his words he did all he needed to do and sent me the herbal medication via DHL shipment I took it as he directed it was exactly 19 days as DR EGBE has spoken when he emailed me and told me to go for a check up again and I went to my greatest surprise it was negative I felt it was a dream so I went to three different hospital and it was still negative then I cried out in a loud voice and people gathered in the hospital and I told them my story in tears how this man called DR EGBE have saved my life and they started demanding for his mail to contact him it was only last week my friend monica who was herpes positive came back from visiting DR EGBE as a healthy woman I told her about DR EGBE you can reach him through his email address egbegodytemple@hotmail.com he never fails hold done my friend don't cry no more when our helper is here I believe in him he am sure you will be lucky as I am too just email him on egbegodytemple@hotmail.com he is a savior of life. any DISEASE: you have will be cure by DR EGBE
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