Paging Dr. Ricardo

Roger Bate | 04 Feb 2008 | American Enterprise Institute

Efforts to increase the poor's access to medicines are nothing new. Buying products from quality manufacturers and urging these manufacturers to lower prices for the poorest markets have worked best; other policies have largely failed or are still on the drawing board. But the latest strategy--to encourage local pharmaceutical production--could also be entirely counterproductive. It could lower drug quality and increase incentives for protectionism, ultimately reducing access.

Fake Drugs Kill People All Over World

Roger Bate | 22 Jan 2008 | The Providence Journal

Health and crime agencies of the United Nations say that counterfeit drugs are killing people from China to Canada, and that they "promote the development of new strains of viruses, parasites and bacteria ... for example in the case of malaria or HIV." And in many countries their manufacture and distribution are not even illegal.

A Global Industry of Fake Drugs

Roger Bate | 22 Dec 2007 | China Post (Taiwan)

U.N. health and crime agencies say counterfeit drugs are killing people from China to Canada and they "promote the development of new strains of viruses, parasites and bacteria . . . for example in the case of malaria or HIV." And in many countries their manufacture and distribution is not even illegal.

Fake Drugs Kill the Poor

Roger Bate | 04 Dec 2007 | Economic Affairs

The best new drugs work very well, but complicating malaria treatment is a burgeoning industry of fakes and pseudo-pharmaceuticals with suspicious provenance. A sick patient faces both a social and medical dilemma: a hardy strain of malaria and a corrupt, poor and inconsistent health infrastructure that constantly reinforce each other.

Good intentions

Richard Tren | 15 Nov 2007 | Economist

SIR - You fail to properly discuss malaria drug quality ("Money v mosquito", November 3rd). Substandard drugs (as opposed to outright fakes) contain some active ingredient, making them likelier to pass basic pharmacological tests. But while fakes might kill individuals, substandard drugs can drive parasite resistance and could doom a whole class of drugs, as well as not cure the patient.

Quality First

Roger Bate | 15 Nov 2007 |

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson will today visit the A to Z Textile Mills factory in the Tanzanian city of Arusha. This will invariably be seen as an endorsement of Africa's only anti-malaria bednet producer, which may seem like a good idea: A to Z is a well-managed firm, and it is already increasing the supply of bednets in East Africa. But in a wider context, offering such overt U.S. support to the idea of aid-driven local production is not sensible policy. As I have documented, arbitrary bureaucratic interventions and corrupt practices cost thousands of lives every year across Africa. Pharmaceuticals often sit on quaysides and spoil in the heat, while clinics suffer shortages that directly affect the health of their patients. Local production may avert the perils of customs officers seeking backhanders; but a more direct approach would be to stamp out the corruption that is hampering distribution. This would expedite distribution, improve the reliability of supply, and reduce costs immediately.

Mind Over Malaria

Roger Bate | 17 Oct 2007 |

As the Gates Foundation meets this week, it should take a closer look at the 'global subsidy' campaign. The idea of a subsidy is worth discussing. But it would be terribly expensive—and, as currently envisaged, it could easily become counterproductive. The subsidy funds would probably be better spent on other priorities. Malaria is far cheaper to prevent in the first place than it is to treat.

New Malaria Drugs to Be Approved, But Do They Work and Are They Safe?

Roger Bate | 05 Sep 2007 | TCS Daily

The market for treatments of malaria - which kills over one million people a year -- is of almost no commercial value: Although patients seek over 300 million treatments a year, and perhaps as many suffer without treatment, few legitimate drug companies make any money from the business. It is for this reason that one would typically be excited that new drugs to treat the disease, produced by Chinese firm Guilin Pharmaceutical, and Indian firm Ipca Laboratories have been approved by the World Health Organization. But recent history suggests that caution is very much in order.

AFM Commentary and Policy Recommendations on Counterfeit and Substandard Medicines

None | 20 Jun 2007 | Africa Fighting Malaria

Around the globe, the production and distribution of substandard and counterfeit drugs is a vast, increasing and largely underreported, problem. Adulterated medicines contain little or none of the active ingredients found in their branded equivalent, and often have adverse health effects.

Medicine groups cannot save world

Richard Tren | 05 Jul 2005 | Business Day (South Africa)

Richard Tren discusses the role that drug companies will play in long-term AIDS treatment in Africa.