Should major pharmaceutical firms be asked to offer drugs to the poorest countries at prices that cover only their costs, and provide no profit?

BACKGROUND: The New York Times reports that “two companies that make vaccines against cervical cancer announced Thursday that they would cut their prices to the world’s poorest countries below $5 per dose, eventually making it possible for millions of girls to be protected against a major deadly cancer.” See the full report here.

The vaccines typically costs about $130 per dose in the United States, the Times reports.

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  • mewabe

    Not everything should be turned into an “industry”, and not everything should serve as a means to gain obscene profits.

    Between $5 and $130 a dose, there is a wide range of reasonable options.

    I once heard a debate between a former USSR resident and an American OWS socialist. The socialist said that in Cuba, doctors are not paid much more than any other workers, and that American doctors are paid way too much.

    The Russian capitalist main argument was that when people are poorly paid, they have no incentive to do a good job (yes, so why are capitalists so against unions or the minimum wage? Answer: because they look out for the interests of the elite and of industry rather than those of ordinary workers. They have nothing against a CEO racking in millions of dollars, but block all efforts to improve worker’s living standards and working conditions, that’s why they give breaks to companies that move their operations to China.)

    My thoughts are: I would rather see a doctor who chose her profession as a vocation, and who consequently does it to actually heal or help people, rather than a doctor who sees his profession as a ticket to wealth and status.

    Adequate remuneration is good, but perhaps we can start realizing that chasing the money as if it was an escaped felon is not the best way to live.

    What is adequate? In an exploitative, predatory, greedy society, nothing ever is. So ask yourselves this: what will I take with me when I die?
    What you will take is what is adequate. All the rest is superfluous. And when the superfluous ruins the world, causes massive and life-threatening environmental degradation and the ruining of countless human lives, the exploitation of millions as well as endless wars, then it becomes imperative to FINALLY ask if it is worthwhile.

  • Carly

    I think, yes, the major pharmaceutical firms should be “asked” to offer drugs to the poorest countries at prices that cover only their costs, and provide no profit. I don’t feel that they should be “required to” because that would interfere with the freedom for an individual to run their company the way they choose However, I will say that it would be nice to live in a world where these types of questions did not even need to be posed; that the largest firms would automatically take such actions in the name of humanity, in the name of the greater good. With that said, it is refreshing to know that there are companies that are, of their own accord, making these choices.

    Perhaps “asking” the major pharmaceutical firms in a public fashion, through the media, tracking the responses and publicly keeping track of who is willing to assist the worlds poorest countries may cause positive changes to occur. So many companies are concerned with their public image, and negative public opinion can sometimes influence outside variables like stock prices which can in turn cause change(s) to occur in a business. I think the element of transparency could bring about some positive changes. For instance, if there were some kind of ongoing reporting on the companies who were willing to assist the citizens poorest countries along side the companies who choose not to (i.e. greed) it may make the companies more likely to make the right choice, or at least what I could consider the right choice.

  • Hello
    Dear Neale
    Many Pharmaceutical company’s are owned by shareholders who are ready to sue the board directors who give the products away for free, thus cheating the shareholders out of profit.
    Not all are in this way, but all the big ones are.
    Greed is the law that is respected and protected by our civil laws.
    It is so nice to see some are ready to make placebos, wortles vaccines, to be sold for 5 dollars to poor people who do not know that medicine is worthless.
    People who can not complain ever to any one about the medicine they get for 5 dollars.
    I do not believe any pharmaceutical comp. who make vaccines to be honest people.
    There got to be some serious money advantage somewhere for the comp. to do this.
    Do not believe me, ask some doctors who work there as volunteers about the vaccines and
    medicine they get for 5 dollars.
    People who are in disease management, not disease eradication are in for the money only.