Ensuring Medicines for Tomorrow’s World
INTRODUCTION When seeking to define an appropriate public policy on medicines for the developing world, it is helpful to bear in mind from the outset a number of fundamental facts. They are well known, but they are not always considered together. First, medicines and vaccines are throughout the world the most widely used tool for the prevention and relief of illness and the restoration of health. Indeed, where sophisticated facilities for medical care are largely lacking, they are commonly the only tool which can reasonably provide and maintain broad access. Second, a very large proportion of the world’s population – generally the poorest and least privileged – still have little or no access to medicines.1 Despite some valiant efforts to relieve that situation, it remains catastrophic. More than 10 million children die every year, almost all in developing countries, many of them from conditions that, given access to the medicines and vaccines that currently exist, are preventable or curable.2 In some respects the problem is becoming more severe as populations grow and the HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to spread.3 Third, while developing countries have an obvious and uncontested duty to tackle these problems within their own borders, the international community has progressively assumed the task of providing the relief, support and guidance. Without this the challenge is unlikely to be adequately met. It would be reasonable to say that much of the industrialized world now acknowledges, at least in theory, that it has a duty in this respect. Both nationally and internationally there...
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