Drug firms are failing to make drugs affordable for the world's poor, a report by charity Oxfam suggests.
The world's biggest drug firms have done little research into diseases that affect poor people, the report said. And their overzealous protection of patents means many poor people cannot afford the drugs they need. Currently 85% of the world's population is priced out of the industry's market . Those who cannot afford drugs often pay with their lives.
Malaria claims the lives of one million people every year, while two million people die annually from TB.
Between 1999 and 2004, there were only three new drugs targeted at diseases affecting the developing world out of 163 drugs brought to market .
Yet for all its no doubt sincere bleatings for a fairness and justice , Oxfam can see no further than the continuance of the very same same capitalist system that causes these problems .
In response to the drug companies , who argue they need to charge higher prices to justify the billions of dollars they spend on research and development and that high taxes and mark-ups by pharmacists and dispensing doctors also push medicine prices higher, they point out and that in addition, their drugs and brands are often ripped off in countries with poor copyright protection , all Oxfam can do is offer the Third World as a bigger market to exploit and source for lower development costs and cheaper manufacturing. Oxfam want "prices for essential medicines need to be tiered, in line with people's ability to pay"
Surely , it must be medical needs that should determine access to medicines and not the ability to pay , no matter how the pricing system may be organised . It is this free access to all the means of life which is the demand of socialists .