Excerpts from Class Notes
18.03.2013 - 18.03.2013 72 °F
"Since health is a human right, we should consider drugs a social good NOT a market good."
On Monday March 18th we received a lecture from Dr. Rasheed (Researcher at the National Network of Public Laboratories) to speak on the Public Production of Medicines - I've included some excerpts below.
Within Argentinean Health Expenditure, 32% of the money is spent on medications (most other countries spend between 15-17%). Argentina is a highly medicalized society where most people look at the pathology and not the surrounding conditions. Physicians disregard the physical exam and patients seek treatment through pharmaceuticals (both under and over the counter). As Dr.Rasheed noted: "Most Argentineans think that if the doctor dosen't prescribe a drug, they must not be a real doctor." To curb this spending Argentina introduced 36 PPM (Public Production of Medicine) laboratories to curb this cost. These PPM Laboratories are registered with the ANMAT (Administracion Nacional de Medicamientos Alimentos y Techonlogia) (the equivalent of the American FDA).
How does the Private Sector promote a Pharmaceutical Culture?
1.) Pharmaceutical Companies Financially Support Medical School Education
2.) Physician Marketing and Gift-Giving
3.) Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Symptoms (Illegal in Argentina)
4.) Campaigns Against Generic Drugs
5.) Medicalization of Emotions and Social Life (i.e. Viagra)
And they're quite successful at it. According to Dr. Rasheed the most profitable markets (in order!) are:
1.) Illegal Drugs Trade
2.) Weapons Trade
How was the Public Production of Medicines (PPM) Established in Argentina)?
There was a latinamerican solidarity movement in the 2000s pushed for the creation of UNASUR. Within UNASUR the establishment of PPM laboratories was recommended as a way of resisting foreign pharmaceutical companies and providing cheaper medications to the people of Latin-America. While 40million Argentineans wasn't enough to support a large-scale production of generics, 440million latinamericans are enough to justify research and development independence. For once the drug market does not have to be bound to international corporations.
While many pharmaceuticals are still being brought form overseas, the Public Production of Medicine has the potential to produce essential cheap generics and improve the health of many latinamericans.