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Reuters Examines Chronic Disease In Developing Countries, Future Of Drug Prices

“Global health projections leave little doubt that chronic diseases are rapidly overtaking infectious diseases, such as malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis (TB), as the world’s biggest killers – a shift emphasized by a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report on global health risks,” Reuters writes in a story analyzing the future of drug pricing in the developing world. Longer life-spans in developing countries “and changing patterns of food, alcohol and tobacco consumption are creating a ‘double burden’ for poor nations, piling chronic diseases on top of infectious diseases,” the news service writes.

As the demand for chronic disease treatment spreads to the developing world, “the price of many of these medicines and their unsuitability for emerging markets are high barriers to access,” Reuters writes, adding that “pharmaceutical bosses will also be under pressure to join patent pools to promote downward price pressure on drugs for major chronic diseases by increasing the number of producers, and may face legal challenges to force them to allow in more generic competition.”

The article details current efforts by pharmaceutical companies, lays out other ways to increase chronic disease treatment access and includes recent statistics that show increasing chronic disease in developing countries. The article also includes comments by Tido von Schoen-Angerer, of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), on his support for drug patent pools to help drive down the costs of therapies used to treat chronic disease.

“Until now companies had been able to separate out drugs that are needed in developing countries from drugs that primarily make up their market in rich countries,” von Schoen-Angerer said. “But the divide which saw infectious diseases as primarily affecting the poor and chronic diseases affecting the rich is now changing, and that will demand a change of strategy” (Kelland, 1/20).