Experimental Ebola Drug Has Run Out

#Health

Thu, Aug 21st, 2014 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

Despite the release from hospital of the American Ebola patient Nancy Writebol, the experimental ebola drug ZMapp has run out. The reason, it seems, is purely economical.

When pharmaceutical companies are deciding where to direct their R. & D. money, they naturally assess the potential market for a drug candidate. That means that they have an incentive to target diseases that affect wealthier people (above all, people in the developed world), who can afford to pay a lot. They have an incentive to make drugs that many people will take. And they have an incentive to make drugs that people will take regularly for a long time—drugs like statins.

This system does a reasonable job of getting Westerners the drugs they want (albeit often at high prices). But it also leads to enormous underinvestment in certain kinds of diseases and certain categories of drugs. Diseases that mostly affect poor people in poor countries aren’t a research priority, because it’s unlikely that those markets will ever provide a decent return. [...]

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