Capitalism in the pharmaceutical industry

Mailén Agüero – Business Development Analyst

Francisco Stefano – Director


The progress of the Pharmaceutical Industry has undoubtedly contributed to the effective treatment or prevention of numerous diseases. This advance has been so important that access to it has been declared a human right. Parallel to the appearance of new medicines, society faces increased health spending that jeopardizes their accessibility by low-income sectors.

The increase in drug prices is perhaps one of the issues that most worries health system administrators and is a challenge for all countries regardless of their economic strength.

Rising already high drug prices have provoked public rejection in both low-income and wealthy countries. For example, in a survey that reached 1,500 groups in 78 countries in 2011, only 9% of those interviewed thought that pharmaceutical companies had a fair and adequate pricing policy.

Various are the reasons invoked to justify the high prices. In the first order, 2 arguments are used. On the one hand, the difficulties and economic weight that research and development tasks entail, and on the other, patent law is raised as a tool to avoid competition and reap the benefits of R&D.

Regarding patent law, commercial ethicists believe that medicines are different goods from those that are commonly traded in daily life and that pharmaceutical companies will facilitate the accessibility of innovations to patients who could not use them for economic reasons. This position has gained ground and there are at least two examples that demonstrate the advantages that can be achieved, they are the marked decrease in the cost of HIV treatment in low-resource countries and the successful effort demonstrated by the rapid development of usable vaccines. for the prevention of COVID.

The WTO (World Trade Organization) Agreement on Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights is a comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property.

The TRIPS agreement and the following Doha and Uruguay meetings established rules to strengthen intellectual property rights in international trade while leaving the doors of negotiation open in emergency conditions or unmet needs for reasons of underdevelopment or poverty.

Greater interdisciplinary interaction between economists, ethicists, and physicians can help reduce the disjunction between innovation and access and improve access and patient care. This dialogue will have an impact on private industry and may drive new multi-stakeholder paradigms for drug discovery, development and pricing.

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