The Drug Developed World

Michael Byrne flags a study on pharmaceutical researchers neglecting the needs of developing countries:

Pursuing drugs benefiting mostly an elderly population is essentially a stand-in for pursuing drugs benefiting a first-world population, where people live a long time and die slowly of things like cancer, COPD, or heart disease (to name the three biggest killers). In the developing world, people die much younger, hit quickly by infectious diseases like cholera, hepatitis, and malaria (or, recently, the Ebola virus). After examining some 4 million different med studies, the Chicago researchers found that for every $10 billion in wealth lost to a disease—found by multiplying a metric known as the local disease burden by a country’s wealth—the number of articles on that disease rose by 3 to 5 percent. Again: not surprising.

What may be startling, however, is that it gets much worse. Research studies are not just concentrated by income, they’re concentrated according to where researchers are located. “Health researchers are sensitive to problems they are treating, to problems around them, to Grandma’s problems,” noted lead author James Evans in a press release. ”Countries want to fund research that burdens their populations. Where this leads to inequality in health knowledge is that the disease burden of rich and poor countries are different, and that rich countries obviously produce much, much more research.”