Public-Private Partnerships for Health: Social experiments to integrate ethics and profits (English)

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Public Health Seminar Delivered by Dr. Sherri Treasurywala on June 7, 2011.

More than 6 million people die each year in Third World countries from TB, Malaria, HIV/AIDS and acute lower-respiratory infections. Some of these cases are curable, many of them are treatable and almost all are preventable. But people die because they are poor and because they are poor they get sicker - they do not have access to drugs that could save their lives.

Global spending on prescription drugs is estimated to top $880 billion this year. The total average development cost of one biopharmaceutical drug exceeds $1 billion and the process takes about 10 years. Pharmaceutical companies remain one of the most profitable corporate entities. They spend 90% of their R&D budget on medical conditions responsible for 10% of the world's burden of disease. They are widely criticized for this 10/90 gap because their focus is on developing lifestyle drugs that can only be afforded by the West.

There are several public private partnerships that seek to develop novel drugs and provide access by momentarily putting healthcare for the poorest people in the world above corporate profits. While this may be a step in the right direction from an ethical perspective, business engagement in public health poses complex challenges. Infringement of intellectual property, lack of infrastructure, government bureaucracy and corruption are just some of the variables that need to be addressed in order to effectively execute ethically sound strategies from powerful producers to needy consumers.

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Public-Private Partnerships for Health: Social experiments to integrate ethics and profits by Sherri Treasurywala is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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