Why the drugs market isn't working and what we can do to fix it

Posted on 9 November 2015

Martin Chalkley and Paul Revill write for The Conversation

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When the new owners of a life-saving AIDS drug raised its price by 5,000%, an online backlash forced the CEO to change his mind. While the public might have been outraged, this was hardly the first time the pharmaceutical industry failed to make a cheap-to-produce but essential medicine easily available to those who need it.

Earlier this year, experts warned that a vital snakebite antidote had been withdrawn from the market by its manufacturers and that soon there would be no equivalent treatment available at all.

Too often the knowledge and the means to save lives are put at risk by problems with the pharmaceutical market. When these medicines are already developed and can be produced at modest cost, it is all the more frustrating and morally questionable.

We live in a world where the economic system can generally be relied upon to produce things that people want or need – even when those wants and needs could be viewed as trivial. So why, when it comes to something as important as life-saving medicines, does that system sometimes fail us?  Read more