The Role of Bioethics in the International Prescription Drug Market: Economics and Global Justice
Newland, Shelby E.
Penn Bioethics Journal 2006; 2(2): 8-12
In terms of health care access, bioethics has an important role to inform and shape policy issues and develop interdisciplinary ideas and interventions. The rising price of prescription drugs presents one of the most looming barriers to health care access in the world today. Including both theoretical and practical features of the pharmaceutical industry's behavior is necessary to find ethical solutions towards increasing access. Bioethics can evaluate global justice by weighing human rights theory and future innovation at the macro level, and by addressing market forces and responsibilities at the micro level. Inherent structural features of pharmaceuticals, such as its reliance on research and development, cause the industry to employ pricing strategies that seem counter-intuitive to conventional wisdom, but that result in producing a just allocation as defined by market forces. Parallel trade and drug exportation/reimportation threaten the saliency of the industry's differential pricing scheme; a case-study of a single "Euro-price" within the European Union illustrates how this will actually create harm to the most needy member states. This complex situation requires solutions weighing arguments from human rights theory with those from economic theory to arrive at the most globally just allocation of prescription drugs in the global marketplace, as well as to ensure future innovation and scientific progress. Bioethicists as well as economists need to partake urgently in this discourse for the betterment of the global injustices in the international prescription drug market.
Bioethics; Drugs; Economics; Harm; Health; Health Care; Human Rights; Industry; Justice; Pharmaceutical Industry; Research; Rights; Responsibilities; Social Control of Science and Technology; Drugs and Drug Industry; International and Political Dimensions of Biology and Medicine; Economics of Health Care;
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