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24 February, 2017

Big pharma limiting access to drugs in developing world

Expensive medicines remain inaccessible for many. Lengthy patents prevent development or importation of cheaper generic drugs. The quest for profit trumps the needs of the developing world, violating the basic tenet of justice to provide healthcare to all.

Great scientific and medical advances were made over the course of the 20th century, manifesting in the development of myriad medicines, sophisticated surgical techniques, and significant improvements in healthcare provision. Average life expectancy in the USA increased by almost three decades during this period, concomitant with a steep fall in infant mortality. In England and Wales, average lifespans rose from 49 (males) and 53 (females) in 1910 to 75 (males) and 80 (females) by the end of the century.

The development of antibiotics, novel vaccinations, and an ever-widening array of medicines are some of the reasons behind the virtual eradication of infectious diseases such as measles, rubella, and TB in the developed world.

Not everyone has equally benefitted from this scientific progress, however. The aforementioned diseases are still frighteningly prevalent across the developing world. The average life expectancy in some African nations is as low as the sixth decade of life, as millions succumb to diseases and die without access to vaccinations, medicines, or decent healthcare.

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