Today's op ed in The Nation by Northeastern University professor Brook Baker asks whether Abbott isn't practicing "pharmaceutical apartheid" in Thailand. The company recently withdrew registration for the heat-stable form of its HIV/AIDS drug Kaletra and marketing approval applications for six other drugs in that country, after the Thai government issued a compulsory license for Kaletra. Although both sides of the "IP protection vs compassion" issue make very good points, I would argue that the industry be held to the relevant principles of the Hippocratic Oath*, just as its physician customers are, and that it soft pedal IP considerations in nations whose per capita income is low. After all, this is supposed to be a healing industry. ..*.I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being ...I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings... But the industry fears that this will open up Pandora's Box. This is a debate where each side oversimplifies and distorts the other's point of view. Perhaps it's time to recognize that both points of view are valid and necessary. And then get someone with political savvy and diplomatic ability to mediate between them. If businesses say that "market forces," rather than emotion and compassion, must reign supreme, then NGOs help these forces by increasing competition and driving down prices. If NGOs say that business' focus on IP protection prevents access to medication, that same focus permits innovative drugs to be developed. I foresee a global summit where someone like Bill Clinton, through his Foundation, brings both sides to the negotiation table. Not only Abbott in Thailand, but Novartis in Africa. For a dispassionate look at this ideological battle, read this paper, written a few years ago by George Washington University professor Susan Seem and Washington University (Seattle) Professor Aseem Prakash, but just as relevant today. Here's a summary chart from the paper.