Pharmaceutical Companies and Global Lack of Access to Medicines: Strengthening Accountability under the Right to Health
Article first published online: 12 JUL 2012
© 2012 American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics, Inc.
The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics
Special Issue: SYMPOSIUM: Pharmaceutical Firms and the Right to Health
Volume 40, Issue 2, pages 234–250, Summer 2012
How to Cite
Grover, A., Citro, B., Mankad, M. and Lander, F. (2012), Pharmaceutical Companies and Global Lack of Access to Medicines: Strengthening Accountability under the Right to Health. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 40: 234–250. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-720X.2012.00661.x
- Issue published online: 12 JUL 2012
- Article first published online: 12 JUL 2012
Many medicines currently available on the market are simply too expensive for millions around the world to afford. Many medicines available in the developing world are only available to a small percentage of the population due to economic inequities. The profit-seeking behavior of pharmaceutical companies exacerbates this problem. In most cases, the price reductions required to make drugs affordable to a broader class of people in the developing world are not offset by the resultant increase in sales volume. Simply stated, in most of the developing world, it is more profitable to sell drugs to the very wealthy at high prices than it is to sell cheaper drugs to a greater number of people. As a result, medicines remain unaffordable for the vast majority of people in many parts of the world. While this might be an acceptable outcome for certain commodities, such as luxury goods, it is completely unacceptable for life-saving medicines. Therefore, in order to effectively address the global lack of access to medicines, the role pharmaceutical companies play in the international intellectual property regime must be critically examined.