[Ip-health] Ethical aspects re business of Hep C drugs

Janis Lazdins lazdinsj at gmail.com
Sun Jul 26 03:46:05 PDT 2015

We have seen the clinical success of Sovaldi and Harvoni, we have realized
the potential of these drugs to free the world from global scourge. However,
we have also witnessed the enormous revenues that these products has
provided to Gilead, revenues that not only have recovered the investment in
developing these products but probably will  cover for a long time to come
the costs of developing new products. Products for which there is no reason
to believe that they will be more affordable, on the contrary given that the
objective of Pharma R&D is to deliver more effective products, under the
current market logic, they will be more expensive. Needless to  mention the
enormous wealth that it has brought to the top executives of Gilead or their
shareholders, who have done the outmost to fiercely defend their status quo.
The ethical question that we should ask is: when enough is enough? Can we
really justify the grow of the wealth of few ones  under the excuse that
despite their high costs, these represent in the long term a savings to the
health systems? If we accept going down this path, then our hope to manage
old global treats like infectious diseases or their new challenges as
antibiotic resistance, will remain an illusion or in the best case an option
for a few ones.

Pope Francis recently reminded us:  "Human rights are not only violated by
terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic
structures that creates huge inequalities". Therefore, something has gone
terribly wrong when a particular human being can no longer cap his/her
ambition for wealth and gives a blind eye, that no matter how one looks at
it, on building wealth on the desperation and suffering of many and the
exclusion of many more. But perhaps even more tragic, when we as a society
accept this. 200 years ago wealth created trough slavery was hardly
questioned, on the contrary it was justified for the enormous
"socio-economic" benefit that it provided to the colonial societies of the
time, let's  hope that we will not have to wait 200 years to realize how
shameful it is to disproportionally merchandize on human suffering caused by

Janis K. Lazdins, MD, PhD.

Retired World Health Organization

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