Can R&D into neglected diseases be mandated? World Health Assembly tackles this and other issues, brings news of WHO director’s

At the World Health Assembly meeting in Switzerland this week (which brought with it news of the untimely death of Dr. Lee Jong-Wook, 61-year-old Director of the World Health Organization), Kenya and Brazil have reportedly proposed a resolution for helping to stimulate global research into neglected diseases----those "unprofitable" diseases (dengue fever, for example) that exact such a toll on people in developing nations.  The resolution would establish a framework for prioritizing R&D goals, and calls for "equitable sharing of costs by all those who benefit from research," provoking an impassioned response from Richard Tren, director of Africa Fighting Malaria, and Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute. Tren and Bate argue convincingly for the need for market-driven research. Among the key concerns are that such a framework would have to be subsidized, completely, by the industrialized nations, and that it would require that companies surrender some of their international intellectual property rights.  What do you think? For more on this important and controversial subject, read PharmaManufacturing's interview with Rachel Glennerster and Michael Kremer, authors of "Strong Medicine." -AMS