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Commentary

Medicine groups cannot save the world
Richard Tren, Business Day, 7-5-05

Writing in response to Bristol-Myers Squibb’s decision to create a $40m pediatric AIDS treatment corps for Africa, Tren argues that drug companies should not be expected to carry the burden of health in low-income countries because their core competency is the research and development of new drugs:

Funding clinics and training doctors is not Bristol-Myers Squibb’s core competence. The job of it and other drug companies is to develop medicines and make sure they work. Berating them for not spending more on medical schools is a cheap shot. Also, one has to ask why so many African governments, with billions of dollars of aid over the past 40 years, have not done more to build medical schools and improve health care.
Drug resistance is emerging in Africa. As and when treatment is scaled up, resistance will spread and then, increasingly, second and third-line therapies will be needed. Finding long-term solutions to Africa’s AIDS problem needs continuing research into new therapies. Bristol-Myers Squibb understandably wants to get as much good media coverage for its treatment programmes, but children in Africa would be better off if it concentrated on developing new drugs.


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