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Fall of big pharma

The pharmaceutical industry is in poor health. Sales are declining, innovation is weak and drug trials don't work. Longer patent periods are needed.

By Richard Horton   August 2003

The pharmaceutical industry is an easy target-too easy sometimes. Take a television camera crew to any African hospital and you will find people dying from diseases-Aids, chest infections, malaria, tuberculosis, meningitis-that are entirely treatable. Thousands of deaths stack up in the world’s poorest countries because people are denied access to essential medicines.

NGOs, such as M?decins Sans Fronti?res and Oxfam, have made a persuasive case to governments and the public that big pharma’s paramount concern is to protect its intellectual property at the expense of the lives of the poor. Pharmaceutical companies reply that they cannot be a national health…

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