Editorial: Create malaria fund to lower drug cost
One of the most effective ways of battling malaria in Africa would be for wealthy countries to create a fund to purchase anti-malaria drugs developed from the Chinese herb wormwood, this Los Angeles Times editorial argues. By creating a global purchasing pool, the price for the now-expensive drugs could be lowered dramatically, the newspaper writes. Los Angeles Times (8/15)
The newest malaria miracle cure is best used as a cocktail with other drugs, called artemisinin combination therapy. But ACT costs more than legions of Africa’s rural poor can afford. And without a market of consumers able to buy it, farmers outside China have little incentive to start growing the artemesia plant, while scientists aren’t encouraged to invest in finding a synthetic substitute and manufacturers have no motivation to increase production of the finished drug.
What is needed is a global purchasing pool, separate from the one proposed to spur investment in vaccine research. Rather than guaranteeing a future market for a potential vaccine, the second fund would be tapped now to pay for an already existing cure.
The Washington-based Institute of Medicine, an independent organization that advises the U.S. government on health policy, last year proposed just such a plan. In a report written by a Nobel Prize-winning economist, it called on international organizations and world leaders to contribute $300 million to $500 million a year to a centralized procurement agency to buy ACTs at competitive prices, then resell them at lower prices to public and private distributors in countries battling malaria.
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