Last week, the Science Journal PLOS ONE released an online post where they heavily criticized pharmaceutical companies for reducing the amount of money allocated to research and development on drugs that could help those living in impoverished situations around the globe. The article, written by Dr. Manica Balasegaram, claims that pharmaceutical companies have ignored the plight of the poor in favor of catering to the wealthy—developing expensive drugs that fit small niches and could only be afforded by those living in mostly western nations. The article cites Bayer’s CEO, Marijn Dekkers, who just last month claimed that his cancer drug was made for “Western patients who could afford it.”
Dr. Balasegaram continued to provide examples, citing how AstraZeneca announced that it would stop early level research for drugs that treat diseases and illnesses that are faced in many poor countries. Drugs for which early research was stopped include tuberculosis and malaria. AstraZeneca will now use their research and development teams to develop drugs treating more “affluent” illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Pharmaceutical companies argue that intellectual property laws are not strong enough in impoverished countries to justify developing drugs for illnesses such as tuberculosis and malaria. Dr. Balasegaram claims that this thinking hurts poor people across the globe, even those residing in western nations. “