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February 7, 2017

Privatized Pharmaceutical Innovation vs Access to Essential Medicines: A Global Framework for Equitable Sharing of Benefits

Author Affiliations
  • 1Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 2O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University, Washington, DC
JAMA. 2017;317(5):473-474. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.17994

The effect of the current privatized model of pharmaceutical innovation on the development and affordability of lifesaving vaccines and medicines has been an enduring source of conflict. The need to promote and reward the development of new drugs and devices through patent protection—and the high prices this promotion and protection generate—seem to adversely affect equitable access to essential medicines and the right to health. Throughout the world, even in the United States, the high cost of pharmaceuticals provokes controversy, as is evident with the pricing of the epinephrine injection (EpiPen) and ledipasvir/sofosbuvir (Harvoni).