Access to medicines and the patent pool


Unni Karunakara, the president of Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders, talks about international inequalities in access to medicine and possible developments in models of patent protection. “What about the people dying today?” he asks.

Discussing the example of HIV, he notes that lower cost generic drugs have brought down the cost of HIV treatment tremendously over the past decade, from $10,500 per person annually in 2000 to its current price of about $80 per person annually.  This lower price has meant that about 5 million people in Africa are now able to obtain treatment — and therefore survive.

He also points out that companies have little or no market incentive to carry out research on diseases that are restricted to poor people in the developing world.


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