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Debate: Should AIDS drugs be made cheaper for developing countries?

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Should AIDS drugs be made cheaper for developing countries?

Background and context

With the vast majority of the world’s HIV/AIDS cases being in Africa, and more specifically, sub-Saharan Africa, the issue of the affordability of AIDS drugs in these typically poor and developing countries is coming to the fore. Some African countries have threatened to ignore drug companies’ intellectual property rights and produce drugs such as AZT cheaply in a generic form, unless the companies agree to lower the price of their products to the poorer markets.Key issues in this debate are whether the drug companies are simply making a profit in the markets that need their product most (and are thus immoral), whether the poorer nations really can’t afford to pay and whether it is at all in the interests of the developing countries to threaten the companies’ intellectual rights and propose to make generic medicines.

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Argument #2

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Yes

The countries with the biggest AIDS problems are held as a captive market and are forced essentially to pay whatever the drug companies demand for their products. These poor nations are thus justified in using the threat of generic drugs to force the companies to lower their prices. Especially countries like africa and asia, which already have to life poor, and for sure don't have any money left.



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No

Drug companies are by no means omnipotent, they are as much subject to the forces of the free market as any other business. If anything, the nations in Southern Africa have the largest market for the drugs in the world, so the drug companies would not be supplying the drugs at the current price, if people were not buying them. The threat of generic drugs only further serves to discourage drug companies from creating new and more effective medicines, as the developing nations have shown them that their patent rights will not be respected.



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Argument #1

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Yes

yes I feel that aids drugs should be made cheaper because most of the developing countries such as south africa and india have a high poverty line. So most of hiv+persons cannot afford such expensive medicines and thus cannot increase their life expectancy.

Without a doubt, many of the world’s drug companies are making large profits by selling drugs to the poorer nations that have massive HIV/AIDS problems. This is an immoral exploitation of those AIDS sufferers who can least afford to pay the huge sums of money for treatment, but who have the least power internationally to negotiate for cheaper prices.

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No

Just like any business, the pharmaceutical companies need to recoup huge financial investments in research and development. In the case of AIDS drugs, the mechanisms that many of them employ to work are highly technical and a huge return on the initial financial investment is needed if drug companies are to have any reason to pursue the next generation of AIDS drugs.

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Argument #3

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Yes

Generic drugs would be far cheaper to produce, and without the shipping costs from factories in Europe. The generic drugs would also have no research and development costs to create, so they could be sold for a far reduced price from what the drug companies are charging. The average cost for keeping a person on a course of AZT and other drug cocktails whilst they have HIV is exorbitant, a cost which would be hugely reduced through the use of generic substitutes.




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No

Because most of the drug companies are based in richer, first world nations, they have both the technology to produce effective medicines, and the funding to ensure that no corners are cut in the process. The poorer nations would almost certainly cut certain chemical corners in their manufacture of generic drugs, should the technology for their large-scale manufacture even be available. In addition, by contravening international intellectual property rights treaties, they would be alienating themselves from the rest of the world and will not benefit from the next generation of AIDS drugs, as companies will be reluctant to supply a country that will just steal the drug formula and make cheap generic substitutes.



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Argument #4

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Yes

The suffering of millions of people is ongoing, for as long as the drug companies refuse to make AIDS medication available to the poorer nations at a price they can afford. Are they trying to use the millions of HIV sufferers as hostages in their battle to get the prices they want?


All over Africa, poverty is a common denominator and it is not surprising that peoples immune systems have been damaged. WHO (World Health Organization) classes malnutrition as the number one killer on the African continent, poverty being the primary factor for AIDS.

In 1998 the report by WHO lists HIV, 8th on the killer list


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No

Is it right that third world sufferers should get huge discounts, whilst first world sufferers pay the full price? First world nations may even have to pay more, if the drug companies decide to subsidise their “charity sales” by charging the developed countries more. Are the poorer countries not using the sufferers as hostages themselves? Many of the developing nations would in fact make huge long term savings by buying and using preventive medicines to stop mother to child transmission, etc.



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Argument #5

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Yes

The drug companies will not end up making a loss by reducing the medicine prices anyway. Basic laws of the market should tell you that the reduced profit for drugs like AZT and Nevirapine will be recouped from the fact that the drugs will suddenly become affordable to a market of millions of sufferers, many of whom will be using products like AZT for the duration of the disease, so it would not be a case of the companies losing money in making the drugs cheaper after all.



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No

Even at the bare minimum price at which the drug companies would break even, the majority of the third world would be unable to afford the drugs. One-off treatments to prevent mother to child transmission and for rape victims, etc. would be expensive enough. The cost prices for complex drug cocktails would still be exorbitant, and way out of the budget of the developing nations, so no matter how much the drug companies sell, they would still be making a loss.



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Argument #6

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Yes

By buying the medicines now, especially for preventative purposes, the developing nations can succeed in reducing their HIV positive population and thus not have to worry about buying the next generation of (inevitably more expensive) drugs. They are as cheap as they can go at the moment, so instead of threatening and insisting on cheaper prices, the developing nations should invest now, so that they do not need to buy more expensive drugs in bigger quantities for the larger amounts of sufferers they will otherwise have to deal with later.



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No

No matter how low they drug companies can sell their product, it is unlikely to ever be cheap enough, as the number of HIV infected people in Africa grows, the strain on the national health spending of governments will become unbearable. These countries are better off pursuing preventative measures and education with the money they have to spend for health. Because of this, they will need to save money in other areas of healthcare, and the greatest savings can still be made by producing cheap, generic medicines.



See also

External links and resources

Books:

[[Category:Central America

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