Africa has roughly 80 percent of the HIV/AIDS infections in the world, on top of older plagues like malaria, sleeping sickness and river blindness. But it gets barely one percent of the world’s modern drugs for treatment. The value of all the medical drugs delivered in Africa is about the same sum that the pharmaceutical industry spends on advertising its wares in the United States.
This is the abysmal gap between crisis and cure in capitalistic medicine — a crisis that only lately has commanded page-one and political attention and may be shaming the drug industry into a new course of action. President Clinton and the drug companies have just begun to knock the price down on AIDS drugs, for example. Still to be built is a delivery system for the third world. Still to be developed are modern remedies for diseases in the impoverished tropics that it hasn’t been profitable to cure.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)
Richard Laing, Professor of Public Health at Boston University
Daniel Berman of Doctors without Borders
Tom Bombelles of Merck Pharmaceuticals.