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Medecine and Intellectual Property - Essay Example

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Summary
Intellectual property is a new concept introduced into modern-day vocabulary not too long ago, catching fire in 1994 when the World Trade Organization (WTO) made it an integral part of its mission and structure.
Large multinational pharmaceutical companies are among its most ardent advocates as they lobbied to have intellectual property ownership institutionalized to mean "physical ownership of things you create, including medicines and other medical formulation to heal the sick and the afflicted" and recognized by all countries.
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Medecine and Intellectual Property
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Download file to see previous pages It believes the recognition and understanding where both parties are coming is a vital first step to soften the impact of the conflict until a happy compromise is found.
For large pharmaceutical companies investing billions of dollars to continually develop new medicines against diseases, it provides the necessary incentives in the form of patents to provide wider latitude in the development, promotion, and distribution of new drugs to recoup their investments and earn significant revenues for years of research and hard work. It also serves as an incentive for pharmaceutical companies to develop new products for the prevention or treatment of common as well as dreaded diseases.
But for low-income countries struggling to provide basic healthcare services and affordable drugs to their citizens, intellectual property is an onerous imposition that threatens to wreck lives in the wake of killer diseases, like pneumonia, HIV/AID, tuberculosis, hypertension, and measles that claim 37,000 men, women, and children everyday (WHO, 2005). The same report said more than one third of the world's population lacked regular access to essential drugs. Every year, millions of children and adults in developing countries around the world still die from common diseases that could be readily treated by drug therapies, and more economically cured with generic drugs.
HEATED DEBATE
The law on intellectual property rights allows pharmaceutical companies unrestricted rights to manufacture and distribute medicines at prices they command Without access to the drugs in the treatment of HIV, for example, to combat the spread of the dreaded disease, people from many countries in Africa experiencing an HIV/AIDS pandemic will die in record number. 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. According to current estimates, HIV is set to infect 90 million people in Africa, providing an enormous market for an anti-HIV medicine.
There is currently no vaccine or cure for HIV or AIDS. The only known method of prevention is avoiding exposure to the virus. However, an antiretroviral treatment, known as post-exposure prophylaxis is believed to reduce the risk of infection if begun directly after exposure. Current treatment for HIV infection consists of highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, an expensive procedure that many poor countries in Africa are forced to take.
Non-African countries, like the Philippines, may not suffer as much as the Africans in terms of exposure to dreaded diseases, but they are also victims of expensively priced medicine. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, invoking its patent rights, recently filed an infringement lawsuit against the Philippines for its plan to import a generic and cheaper version of Norvasc in India. Norvasc is a maintenance medicine for people with heart condition.
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