International Community Must Help Developing Countries Prevent HIV Spread, Not Acquire Drugs, Editorial Says
"In rich countries, most people with the AIDS virus now survive. In poor countries, most die," an editorial in the Globe and Mail says, pointing to "expensive drug cocktails that keep AIDS at bay" as the reason for this difference. But two solutions to remedy the discrepancy -- removing patent protections on brand-name drugs or forcing drug makers to give the drugs away -- are equally problematic. Without patent protections and the "profit motive," drug companies would not invest the money needed for anti-AIDS drug development and improvement, nor would they do the research. "The result would be a halt to the development of new drugs that might help people with AIDS all over the world live longer, healthier lives," the editorial states. As for the second solution, "it's hard to see why" drug companies should be required to donate medicines to developing nations, the editorial says, adding, "Drug companies are not charities. Nor are they responsible for the spread of AIDS." The editorial addresses the argument that calls on Western governments to buy and distribute drugs to developing nations by noting the problems of drug expense and effectiveness. Supplying $10,000 worth of AIDS drugs per year to each of the 35 million HIV-positive people across the globe "would cost more than even the most generous donors are willing to give." Furthermore, to be effective, anti-AIDS medications must be taken "consistently in controlled conditions over a long period unThis is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.