“Sustainable development is the way of the future for both North and South,” said Dr. D. Wayne Taylor Ph.D., F.CIM, Executive Director of The Cameron Institute. “In order for there to be sustainable healthcare enterprise and optimal health outcomes in the least-developed countries, there must also be the necessary infrastructure, health human resources, political stability, and professional administrative legal structures.”
The 200-page report, Pharmaceutical Access in Least Developed Countries: on-the-ground barriers and industry successes, shows that the research-based pharmaceutical industry has sponsored or participated in over 150 public-private partnerships that have successfully improved access to drugs – as well as health outcomes – for the 50 least developed countries.
As of this year USD 8.5 billion has been spent on providing 9.5 billion doses or treatments to nearly 1 billion of the poorest on earth through means such as voluntary licensing, donations, and advance market commitments. In addition, 350,000 doctors, nurses and other health professionals have been trained. Efforts have also included new research centres being set up to develop cures or vaccines for the diseases that plague the poorest of nations; infrastructure and capacity-building; information and support. The report also found that intellectual property protections are an important component to ensuring sustainable health development. Access to medicines and innovation are not and cannot be mutually exclusive; without access, innovation is meaningless; without innovation, there is nothing to access.
“Contrary to the opinion of many, intellectual property protection (IPP), in the form of patents or other devices, does not impede access to medicines in the least developed countries of the world; in fact, IPP fosters access,” stated Dr. Taylor.
Licensing of products and/or processes must be voluntary and mutually beneficial if it is to be sustained. Voluntary licensing is a win-win for pharmaceutical companies and the least developed countries. By voluntarily licensing medicines to be manufactured by third parties in developing countries, research-based pharmaceutical manufacturers do not have to incur distribution costs, while they retain their proprietary rights and help improve health outcomes among the most needy of the world’s inhabitants. The greatest barriers to access and improved health in least-developed countries are not drug prices or patents but “on the ground” barriers such as market failure, corruption, non-existent health human resources and infrastructure, and the lack of both local and international political will.