Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
September 14, 2009
Drug industry driven by dollars, not concern for the poor – bishop
Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski says the development of drugs is no longer driven by medical ethics, but "by the logic of industry."
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY - A top Vatican official lamented that producing urgently needed medicines is no longer driven by traditional medical ethics, but by money.
The lack of basic, life-saving medicines also means the world risks "a humanitarian and global health care disaster," said Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.
In too many parts of the world, urgently needed pharmaceuticals are lacking, Zimowski said during a gathering of the International Congress of Catholic Pharmacists in Poznan, Poland. Vatican Radio reported his remarks Sept. 13.
"Often, for economic reasons, common diseases in developing countries are neglected because, even though they afflict and kill millions of people, they do not constitute a lucrative enough market," he said.
Although science is capable of developing medications, some of these needed drugs "won't see the light of day because of exclusively economic reasons," he said.
"The development of drugs is now no longer driven by traditional medical ethics, but by the logic of industry," said the archbishop.
He made an urgent appeal that the poorest people in the world may have access to needed medicines.
Because of the global economic crisis, health care for the ill in developing countries, especially for children, has been cut back even more, with tragic consequences, he said.
Zimowski also highlighted the problem of counterfeit drugs, antibiotics and vaccines.
Fake or diluted drugs can result in prolonged illness or death or can lead to the development of drug-resistant bacteria, he said.
The existence of counterfeit drugs "is highly elevated in developing countries," he said.
The World Health Organization, he said, estimates that in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America more than 30 per cent of all medicines are counterfeit, and that at least 50 per cent of anti-malarial drugs sold in Africa are fake.