Hundreds of Indian activists protested in New Delhi on Monday against a challenge to the country's patent law by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis. India produces affordable medicines that are vital to many people living in developing countries. Over half the medicines currently used for AIDS treatment in developing countries come from India and such medicines are used to treat over 80% of the 80,000 AIDS patients in MSF projects. Photograph by Sheila Shettle
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The Global Politics of Pharmaceutical Monopoly Power

Photograph by Sheila Shettle

Every day, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is confronted with the lack of access to adequate or affordable medical tools in the field. We face two major challenges the high cost of existing medicines on the one hand,and the absence of appropriate or effective treatments for many of the diseases affecting our patients on the other.

This book by Ellen 't Hoen, former Director of Policy Advocacy for the MSF Access Campaign, explains why these twin challenges are in fact two sides of the same coin.  More importantly perhaps, it also analyses the latest mechanisms and policy changes that may help change the broken system of medical innovation and access to medicines today.

In particular, the book highlights recent alternative mechanisms to encourage medical R&D in a way that also ensures access to the developed product by separating the costof research and development from the price of diagnostics, medicines, and vaccines.

As such, MSF wholeheartedly welcomes the publication, in the hope that it may both spur efforts, such as a patent pool, to speed up access to newer medicines, and boost initiatives that make use of alternative financing mechanisms in order to develop new, more appropriate treatments that respond to medical needs.

The Global Politics of Pharmaceutical Monopoly Power