Drug Development and Access: Finding the Right Balance

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Should everyone have access to any drug they need, regardless of whether or not they can afford it?

I have written previous blog posts about trusting market forces to control drug prices, but after reading a story in The Guardian about Jamie Love’s battles with big pharma, I don’t know what to think.

Clearly, there are those in this world who are not able to get the drugs they need because they can’t cover the high costs. Love has spent his life’s work trying to find ways to give the world’s poorest populations access to life-saving medicines for conditions such as HIV and hepatitis C.

Should everyone have access to any drug they need, regardless of whether or not they can afford it? That is an ethical dilemma worth pondering.

At the same time, we have to recognize that it there is a cost associated with developing new therapies. Someone has to pay for this research and development, or else much of the innovation behind it may stop.

What is the right balance between these 2 positions? The article in The Guardian suggests that we don’t have it right yet.

What side do you take on this issue and why? E-mail your thoughts to Fred@ncpharmacists.org.

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