Do you see it there on the horizon? Hope is dawning and the situation seems to be less grim in this radiating light. Diseases run rampant in Africa, plan and simple, there is no health infrastructure to deal with the burden of preventable diseases. Meningitis for example can kill a child in Africa in less than six hours, while we can sit here in our ‘developed’ world knowing that the vaccination is right around the corner office.
The largest drug company in Europe, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced a new drug for sole use in Africa to fight meningitis. The drug will be introduced with prices that will never have potential to cover the research or production costs. Experts and critics see this as a huge change in big companies changing their business practices to be more compassionate. Some critics say it isn’t enough, but I’d say this is an enormous and important positive step in the right direction. The company does not expect to make a profit. In a quote from the BBC article: “We have found a pretty clever way to fund therapeutic solutions for the developing world without essentially sacrificing the more traditional research we do on diseases around the world,” said the GSK chief executive Jean-Pierre Garnier.
This new approach comes about as last year big companies tried to sue South Africa over its purchase of cheaper, generic drugs to combat diseases. From the public outcry the big companies decided to back down amidst a PR disaster and the knowledge that their current practices were not going to cut it. They had to come to the realization that the old way of conduction business had to change. Now big firms are partnering with smaller firms in India and China and they are researching the ‘neglected diseases.’
This is an amazing positive in the way of saving lives. Changing the way companies do business can save lives. Currently four out of the twelve major companies have centers focusing on major diseases like HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. This is seen as the first big step following a number of small steps in the direction of doing something more for the ‘developing’ world.