Nearly every day I’m beset by news about high drug prices and how patents are to blame, at least in large part. There is little dispute about high drug prices - statistics reveal the bad news about how the consumer in the U.S. pays more for medications than anywhere else in the world. What has been difficult for me to understand is the connection between drug prices and health care, even assuming that patents are to "blame" for high drug prices.
An opinion article in "Business Day" that was posted online ("South Africa: ‘Ethical’ Drugs Miss Heart of Matter" ) effectively debunks the cause and effect of patents and lack of access to medicines, instead maintaining that "the price of medicines is only of marginal relevance to health care in poor countries." Among the several examples used to support his case, India is highlighted. The author points out that despite India’s government prohibiting patents for pharmaceuticals - in the belief that it would reduce costs of drugs - poor people in India still lack basic health care. Furthermore, even though drug prices did decrease, in 2005, only an estimated 12,000 of 5 million AIDS patients receive the cheap AIDS drugs. The problem is the health-care infrastructure.
The poor in the U.S. suffer from similar circumstances. Just this morning on CNN Heath report, I learned that although black women have breast cancer at 1/2 the rate of white women, a black woman is twice as likely to die from the disease. The reason is not due to genetics or more aggressive cancers in black women, but simply from lack of information, and especially lack of support services. (Watch video on topic )
The debate on the evil, or at least non-humanitarian, consequences of patents only serves to sidetrack from the real issue.No tags for this post.