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Commentary

Governments Restrict Access to Healthcare and Prevent Medicine Development:
International Policy Network, 3-28-06

This report, from the International Policy Network, finds that governments in developing nations often hinder access to new medicines through misguided regulations, taxes, and tariffs. The authors estimate that "50 per cent of people in parts of Africa and Asia have no access to medicines due to harmful government policies."

The article details some of these barriers:

Taxes and tariffs of up to 55 per cent on imported medicines price people out of treatment.

Byzantine and costly registration requirements mean many medicines already approved in the US, EU and Japan are simply not registered in most poor countries because manufacturers cannot justify the investment in registration.

Health insurance is hampered by government regulations, so the poor are unable to obtain insurance and are only able to pay for treatments if they have sufficient savings, or must rely on charity or meagre government healthcare provision.

Price controls—which proponents claim benefit the poor—actually reduce the availability of drugs, especially in distant rural regions, by making it uneconomic for pharmacies to stock them. Even in relatively wealthy South Africa, price controls have led to the closure of scores of rural pharmacies—leaving thousands of poor people without any access to medicines at all.



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