Take profit motive out of drug research

Posted on August 9, 2018 in Health Policy Context

TheStar.com – Opinion/Readers’ Letters – Re: A century-old cure for superbugs, August 6
Aug. 9, 2018.    Gary Dale

Buried deep inside the story, writers Aleksandra Sagan and Laura Kane identify the real problem when they write “for pharmaceutical companies, there is little profit incentive to invest in drugs that quickly cure patients; medicine for chronic conditions presents a more tempting return on investment.”

Decades ago most medical research was done by universities and hospitals using public funds. Profit was never a consideration. The incentive was to find cures for the diseases that plagued humankind.

Since the rise of neoliberalism, governments have increasingly stepped away from research in favour of letting profit-oriented private companies take the lead. The result has been a huge increase in lifestyle drugs, while life-saving drugs are often just a byproduct.

To make matters worse, some companies see nothing wrong with selling products at grossly inflated prices when they think it will increase their profits. While they justify this as necessary to fund research, studies have shown that pharmaceutical companies on average spend more on marketing than they do on research.

Our governments need to reclaim their lead role in research and development so that they follow society’s needs instead of profits.

Gary Dale, West Hill


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