HIV and the Pharmaceutical Industry: A Minor Miracle

Should the manufacturers of life-saving medicine be able to set their own prices to cover the cost of developing new treatments? Or is it morally wrong to put lives at risk by prohibiting cheaper copies of drugs and competition between producers?

The World Today Updated 26 October 2020 Published 1 June 2001 4 minute READ

Anna Thomas

Co-Founder and Director, Institute for the Future of Work

Wars, floods, famines and riots make headlines. Everyday situations don’t. So when the media of Europe and North America become interested that one third of people living in the developing world do not have access to medicines, a minor miracle has occurred. Poor access to treatment has been around for a long time, but we are hearing about it now largely because of the gravity of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa.

Encouragingly, this has also caught the attention of the world’s leaders. The G8, which includes the world’s dominant economies, will meet in Genoa in July. The cost of health in developing countries will be on the agenda. In particular, discussion will focus on three communicable diseases that have not received sufficient attention from pharmaceutical companies or governments: tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS.

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