Treating Aids: a Global Ethical Dilemma

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Key Issue:
The vast majority of the people infected with HIV and has AIDS do not live in developed countries and do not have an access to therapies. Local governments cannot afford vast reimbursements of health care products and that dispense the citizens of the lifesaving "cocktails". The issue is complicated by the fact that developing countries have poor infrastructure, poor health care systems and poverty that prevent the distribution of anti-AIDS drugs. The international community is facing a dilemma - How to balance the problem of drug accessibility in the developing world with the need to promote and fund research and development of new drugs in the developed world? Is the cost factor the only issue related to access to medicines?

As of January 2006, UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized on December 1, 1981, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in recorded history. In 2005 alone, AIDS claimed between an estimated 2.8 and 3.6 million, of which more than 570,000 were children. (

Drug accessibility for the poor nations has become a vast economic and political issue. The UN, WHO and numerous health care organizations from all over the world, are putting pressure of pharmaceutical companies to reduce pricing on the anti-AIDS drugs. Meanwhile, in order to gain access to medical treatment, governments are importing inexpensive generic drugs and give the right to manufacture drugs domestically, without enforcement of patent requirements.

Many pharmaceutical giants like Glaxo-Smith Kline, Pfizer INC, Merck and Co. make concessions in the form of drastic price reductions, as well as dismissing numerous lawsuits related to patent protections of their products. The companies not only agree to reduce prices for African countries, but comply to offer the drugs at cost without any expectation of profit....
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