Drugs are for rich people; the poor get the scraps

Innovation by the drug industry has always taken a back seat to profits. Recently, Brazil has threatened to break Merck’s patent on a much-needed AIDS drug if negotiations for a lower price render no results.

The Wall Street Journal attacked Brazil in an editorial thusly:

Drug innovation is a risky business, and companies won’t be willing to sink hundreds of millions of dollars into research and development, especially on diseases that affect the poor and sick in developing countries, if they fear their intellectual property will be stolen.

Pu-lease! Thankfully, we have Merrill Goozner to offer this rejoinder:

I’m sorry. I hadn’t noticed the industry investing hundreds of millions of dollars in neglected diseases. The only organization that fits that description is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The drug industry doesn’t invest in diseases that affect the poor unless the disease also affects the advanced industrial world, where people and/or health plans can afford to pay for drugs. That’s why we have lots of drugs for AIDS.

Too true, brotha.

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