Ethical Issues in Funding Research and Development of Drugs for Neglected Tropical Diseases
Journal of Medical Ethics 2009 May; 35(5): 310-314
Neglected and tropical diseases, pervasive in developing countries, are important contributors to global health inequalities. They remain largely untreated due to lack of effective and affordable treatments. Resource-poor countries cannot afford to develop the public health interventions needed to control neglected diseases. In addition, neglected diseases do not represent an attractive market for pharmaceutical industry. Although a number of international commitments, stated in the Millennium Development Goals, have been made to avert the risk of communicable diseases, tropical diseases still remain neglected due to delays in international assistance. This delay can be explained by the form international cooperation has generally taken, which is limited to promoting countries' national interests, rather than social justice at a global level. This restricts the international responsibility for global inequalities in health to a humanitarian assistance. We propose an alternative view, arguing that expanding the scope of international cooperation by promoting shared health and economic value at a global level will create new opportunities for innovative, effective and affordable interventions worldwide. It will also promote neglected diseases as a global research priority. We build our argument on a proposal to replace the patenting system that currently regulates pharmaceutical research with a global fund to reward this research based on actual decreases in morbidity and mortality at a global level. We argue that this approach is beneficent because it will decrease global health inequalities and promote social justice worldwide.
Communicable Diseases; Developing Countries; Drugs; Goals; Health; Humanitarian Assistance; Industry; Justice; Morbidity; Mortality; Public Health; Pharmaceutical Industry; Research; Risk; Allocation of Health Care Resources; Drugs and Drug Industry; International and Political Dimensions of Biology and Medicine; Scientific Research Ethics;