News emerged yesterday that British/Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has pulled out of all early stage research and development for tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases. This news comes a week after comments from the CEO of Bayer emerged, saying the company did not develop a cancer drug for the Indian market, but for "Western patients who can afford it". This, and the latest news from AstraZeneca, only serve to confirm that multinational pharmaceutical companies are ignoring the medical needs of the poor and are pouring their R&D into diseases that primarily affect rich countries.
Médecins Sans Frontières responds to this news with the below quote:
“This move by AstraZeneca is incredibly discouraging and is very bad news for people in developing countries. AstraZeneca are just cementing big pharma’s reputation that they invest in drugs only for rich countries.
The company’s decision plainly shows how the entire pharmaceutical research and development system is broken and needs urgent fixing. AstraZeneca would never withdraw its R&D into these diseases if they affected rich countries or if there was more of an incentive to produce them – instead, they’re going where they see the biggest profits, and it’s not in these drugs.”
- Dr Manica Balasegaram, Executive Director, Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign.