60-Second Science

Business and Regulation Models Can Bring Medicines to World's Poor

Hans Rosling, professor of international health at the Karolinska Institute, explains how a regulated market can encourage pharma companies to produce drugs for the world's poor. Steve Mirsky reports

“Why do I talk so much on money, when I’m a professor public health? Because I love money. I love money, because I know how to use it.” Hans Rosling at a panel discussion on global health on July 1st, the last day of the Lindau meeting.

“And money is the best medicine. It’s the best vaccine. It’s the strongest determinant of health in the world. But like all medicines and vaccines, you must know how to use them. You use them wrongly, they can kill more than they can save. What we need is a business model and a regulation model that makes it possible for all these different types of research we have to be transformed into products and services. And that the pharma companies cannot do. That has to be regulation that makes that possible.”

Rosling, a professor of international health at the Karolinska Institute, explained the kind of regulation he thinks can both serve poor countries and protect pharmaceutical companies’ financial interests.

“Small molecules can be extremely cheap to synthesize. But it was an enormous cost in the research to find out how the molecule should be done and how it should be dosed. That can be licensed to countries, middle-income countries, can produce that. But they must not allow re-exportation then to the rich countries that need to recover the cost. Because we need to give profit to the capital, otherwise we get no capital. I’m not against market economy, I just want it to be cleverly regulated and given clever opportunities.

"Complex molecules or complex technologies, there you need new research, and you need to not have a patent period for 20 years where no one do [sic] research on that molecule, just wait for the money coming in. Put people doing research during the patent period and bringing it down and run trials on that, you know. And others are the whole, more medical research, can you have a shorter treatment period, and that all fighting with big pharma, that should be over by now, it’s not this, it’s clever solution for each product that makes sense.”

—Steve Mirsky

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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