Editorials

The great medicines scandal

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.38868.651736.47 (Published 08 June 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1345
  1. Tessa Richards, assistant editor (trichards@bmj.com)
  1. BMJ, London WC1H 9JR

    New initiatives offer hope that global inequity in access to medicines will be reduced

    Sick people in poor countries are deeply disadvantaged. The millions who have “neglected” tropical diseases lack safe and effective drugs.1 Those afflicted with “Western” diseases (and 80% of the 35 million annual deaths from chronic diseases occur in low and middle income countries2) can ill afford treatment, a new report states.3

    The failure of pharmaceutical companies to invest in research and development of medicines for neglected diseases is long standing. A recent analysis shows that only 21 of the 1556 new chemical entities marketed between 1975 and 2004 were targeted at African trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis, helminthic infections, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, Chagas' disease, malaria, and tuberculosis.1 Ten of the 21 drugs—including four of only five developed since 1999—were marketed for malaria and tuberculosis.

    A different but no …

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