Big Pharma blunders in emerging world

Forget bleeding-heart stories about poor people unable to take the life-saving meds they need. The international relief agency Oxfam is appealing to Big Pharma where it hurts most: the wallet.

Oxfam lays the decline in pharma's overall stock performance at the developing world's doorstep. Investors know that emerging markets are key to the industry's growth, and Big Pharma is doing a lousy job in those markets, the agency contends. Charging high prices, fighting for patents and against generics, developing meds for rich folks' diseases--they're ineffective business strategies destined to fail. No wonder industry shareholders have watched $1 trillion in value go down the tubes.

Or so the argument goes. The intent, of course, is the same; Oxfam wants to open up access to meds for millions of patients in developing countries. "More than 85 percent of world consumers are underserved," the agency says. Pharma, in other words, has dropped the ball. Imagine: A financial indictment of Big Pharma without "pipeline" as a mantra. Could Oxfam be onto something? That depends on how much the developing world figures into drug makers' growth plans.

- check out the release
- read the Oxfam report (.pdf)
- see this article from OneWorld South Asia