Ethical Dilemma Paper
December 15, 2014
Ethical Dilemma Paper
In the last century, we have held science and technology accountable for creating new drugs to help treat terminal and harmful diseases that we contract throughout our lives such as HIV. Pharmaceutical companies obtain patents to protect their work from being stolen from them, and produced at a cheaper cost by generic manufactures. This creates the ethical issue of making the drug untouchable to those with HIV that are not wealthy enough to afford the medication they need to survive. Why do pharmaceutical companies not want to share their patented information? What is a patent pool and how is it saving lives? An ethical dilemma can be resolved through volunteerism that will in turn save lives for centuries to come. Why do pharmaceutical companies not want to share their patented information? Pharmaceutical companies rely on their patents as a source of income that could be reduced by allowing generic companies to copy their drug and make it at a lower cost. If the companies’ profits are cut in half, this gives less money to them and hinders the amount of money they can contribute to the next strain of drugs necessary for those living with HIV. The money they make is used for research and development of these lifesaving drugs are included in the cost of the medication. This is why the prices of the first AIDS drug was twelve thousand dollars per year per patient when it was first released. The ethical dilemma that arises from this is the people that need the drug may or may not be able to afford the medication they need to survive. Pharmaceutical companies began trying to work with the manufactures and offer the medicine to those that did not have the means at a discounted price however they were not reduced enough for many that needed the drug to live. These actions affected a man residing in Kenya by the name of Nelson Otwoma that was suffering from the disease AIDS. He was not wealthy and did not have the means to afford
treatment of his illness. Because India did not recognize pharmaceutical patents, he went to a generic drug company to create the AIDS saving medication. By the generic pharmaceutical company agreeing to formulate this copy pill it cut the amount from twelve thousand dollars per year per patient to ten thousand then to three hundred and fifty dollars to finally a low sixty dollars per year per patient. What is a patent pool and how is it saving lives?
The medicines patent pool was created in 2010 and is supported by the United Nations. This program “improves the access to appropriate, affordable HIV medicines and technologies for people living with HIV in developing countries.”(Multilingual WordPress. n.d.) Ellen ‘t Hoen, executive director of the Medicines Patent Pool, said “In particular, the licensing of elvitegravir, cobicistat, and the Quad while they are still in clinical development should significantly accelerate availability. People in developing countries often have to wait for years before they can access new health technologies.”(Personal communication. July 12, 2011) The generic companies that make the drugs at a lower cost pay a royalty to the company that created and patented the drug, this way they are still able to cover the cost of research and testing of future medications.
Chart. A step-by-step walkthrough of the MPP’s work. Medicines Patent Pool Foundation. n.d. ABOUT THE MPP. Retrieved from http://www.medicinespatentpool.org/about/
When we look at the facts on pharmaceutical patents and why they are required, it is important to remember those affected by the cost of these decisions. The research and testing trials of a new medication adds to the cost of the drug that will extend their life with HIV. Allowing generic manufactures to produce the medication at a lower cost and pay royalties to the founding, company makes...
References: Chart. A step-by-step walkthrough of the MPP’s work. Medicines Patent Pool Foundation. (n.d.) ABOUT THE MPP. Retrieved from http://www.medicinespatentpool.org/about/
Hoen, Ellen ‘t. Personal communication. July 12, 2011 Retrieved from http://www.unitaid.eu/en/resources/news/348-medicines-patent-pool-signs-licence-agreement-with-gilead-to-increase-access-to-hivaids-medicines
Multilingual WordPress. n.d. Advancing Innovation, Access, and Public Health. Retrieved from http://www.medicinespatentpool.org/
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