Drug Development in the Developing World: Oxfam’s Logic Suspect

This comment was simply too good not to highlight.  At its heart, the following irrefutable logic: "Capitalism drives the pharmaceutical industry, and it is foolish to think otherwise.  Where idealism denies profit there will be no further drugs. In this context, does idealism really serve the interests of the third world? Is there not some better way that harnesses capitalism to noble causes? I will personally concentrate my efforts in developing drugs for impotence and hair loss because I'm very tired of the ingratitude that the world shows when you actually try to help poor people in the developing world." The entire comment posted below.  Thanks to this reader for sharing his views. Would anyone care to comment? I find the Oxfam logic on this very suspect-from the heart and not from the head. The argument boils down to this: The pharmaceutical industry is passing up huge profits by not developing drugs for 3rd world diseases where the numbers of potential patients are huge. The history of HIV/AIDS drugs tells the story very well, I think. Immense ammounts of money have been invested in HIV research, and resulted in a number of breakthrough drugs, though these drugs remain expensive to manufacture (e.g., the dose per patient per day is often several grams of a large, complicated API-that doesn't come cheap). Even though most big pharma sell these drugs in africa at cost and in other developing countries at deeply discounted costs proportional to standard of living in each country (as Oxfam suggests is appropriate), the criticisms of "profiteering" remain prevalent and countries such as Thailand and Brazil are quick to push pharma to 0% profit on the drugs they sell using the WHO Trips agreement. From this, Oxfam further concludes that companies are "still not investing enough into researching and developing medicines for diseases that predominantly affect poor people in developing countries."? If-as we learn from HIV-that pricing any drug above cost in the developing world is imoral, there is no profit in any drug that doesn't serve the first world preferentially. Capitalism drives the pharmaceutical industry, and it is foolish to think otherwise. Where idealism denys profit there will be no further drugs. In this context, does idealism really serve the interests of the third world? Is there not some better way that harnesses capitalism to noble causes? I will personally concentrate my efforts in developing drugs for impotence and hair loss because I'm very tired of the ingratitude that the world shows when you actually try to help poor people in the developing world.