It turns out that overcoming manufacturing and supply chain cost constraints to provide low-cost drugs is not the way to improve the health of citizens in developing nations. In fact, the medicines being provided may be doing more harm than good.
A push to fight drug resistance is under way by the Center for Global Development's Drug Resistance Working Group. Researchers find the problem in abundance in developing nations, with millions of child deaths each year from diseases that have outsmarted the drugs intended to thwart them. And when first-line drugs fail, the alternatives are expensive: Curing one drug-resistant TB patient costs the same as curing 200 patients that have ordinary TB, according to the researchers.
The working group's 116-page report identifies common drivers of resistance--"a mix of technology gaps, behavior that leads to inappropriate use of medicines, weak health systems, poor drug quality, and excessive use of antibiotics in agriculture."
The role of pharma manufacturers in stemming the growth of disease-resistant strains is to do what conscientious drugmakers already do: Ensure that their products are safe and effective, even after they are sold. Governments must properly regulate drug licensing, manufacturing, distribution and use, the report says.
The drug industry also should set voluntary standards to maintain product quality from manufacturing through final delivery to the patient, according to the working group. And medicine-provider partnerships should work to promote best practices in drug prescribing and dispensing.