Pharmaceutical Industry Case Analysis

1532 words - 7 pages



During the final stages of the 20th century, a life-threatening disease known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome struck the entire globe. Debora Spar and Nicholas Bartlett provide readers enticing and interesting information through various different points of view in their case Life, Death, and Property Rights: The Pharmaceutical Industry Faces AIDS in Africa. For the developed countries in the West, AIDS was brought under control by prevention, education, innovations, and medical discoveries. For other developing nations throughout the globe, the AIDS epidemic was still widespread. Millions continued to die from the disease in Africa, and 25 million were infected with the ...view middle of the document...

These companies were able to transform themselves into successful corporate giants due to “medical advances, government support, and a capital market eager to oblige” (Bartlett & Spar, 2002, p.5). The patent system allows these companies to protect the development and distribution of their drugs based on their terms. Once it had appeared that scientific research and development could lead to direct cures for illnesses, funds came flooding into the pharmaceutical industry hoping for new innovations regarding the development of cures through new drugs. Arsenals of proprietary drugs were developed, and the patent system “gave each company 20 years of exclusive control over the drugs it had developed”, which enforced innovations for the development of new drugs (Bartlett & Spar, 2002, p.6). The case continues with Bartlett and Spar presenting the interesting factor of the emergence of a substantial generic industry for drugs, and their successes in other countries such as India, Brazil, and Argentina. These generic drug industries were able to develop due to undermined forms of patent protection. As Western manufacturers started to go global, they also campaigned for their Western-style property rights to be brought into the developing world. They were successful at adding the TRIPS initiative under the requirements of countries joining the WTO, which was an excellent strategy in allowing these companies to protect their intellectual property rights. Responding to the AIDS plague in Africa is no easy task, and my belief is that while allowing for policy relaxation regarding intellectual property rights and the development of a generic market might seem like a viable solution for Africa, the various infected countries in Africa must first look at the numerous issues that are scourging them, other than AIDS.
Even if pharmaceutical companies were willing to freely give away their AIDS products such as the HAART program to the African Market, it would not result in a significantly improved state of health for the ill in Africa. Unfortunately, the African environment is prone to endemic characteristics such as “the lack of clean water in many areas, poor medical infrastructure and limited information, and stubborn political and social issues that local authorities do not address” (Bartlett & Spar, 2002, p.11). In order for a program such as the HAART program to be successful when implemented into a market, there must be clinics and health care workers to support the treatments of patients. Patients also have to be in good general health as well, receiving adequate nutrition and avoiding other diseases present in the area. Sadly, Africa is also plagued with other illnesses such as measles, typhoid, and malaria to name a few, and a wide-scale program such as the HAART program would not be successful in an already disease-stricken environment. While Africa does lack appropriate resources that would make an AIDS program successful in the area,...

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