Pharma must be held more accountable to its human rights responsibilities

Sep 28, 2010

In this week's PLoS Medicine, the Editors argue that drug companies should be held much more accountable for their human rights responsibilities to make medicines available and accessible to those in need.

Despite decades of advocacy on the part of the access to medicines movement, and guidelines developed in 2008 for pharmaceutical companies that make clear that their responsibilities go beyond stakeholder value to encompass human rights, there is inadequate accountability, say the Editors.

"At the same time that the 825 billion dollar global pharmaceutical industry operates as society's chief developer and purveyor of life-saving medicine, two billion people around the world lack access to essential medicines. Such a persistent perversity demands more outrage," argue the Editors.

The editorial accompanies a series of viewpoints in a commissioned Debate on the topic of whether drug companies are living up to their human rights responsibilities. In the Debate, three unique perspectives are offered: Sofia Gruskin and Zyde Raad from the Harvard School of Public Health say more assessment is needed of human rights responsibilities; Geralyn Ritter, Vice President of Global Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility at Merck & Co. argues that multiple stakeholders could do more to help States deliver the right to health; and Paul Hunt and Rajat Khosla introduce Mr. Hunt's work as the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to the highest attainable standard of health (2002-2008), regarding the human rights responsibilities of pharmaceutical companies and access to medicines.

"The importance and significance of accountability in this area cannot be overstated," say the Editors. "Beyond an add-on or peripheral activity, the acknowledgement and promotion of human rights must become a regular, integrated aspect of the work of pharmaceutical companies. Better yet would also be an external, international body charged explicitly with monitoring the policies and practices of and reporting publicly on the discharge of their right-to-health responsibilities."

Explore further: New Dominican law OKs abortion if life at risk

More information: The PLoS Medicine Editors (2010) Drug Companies Should Be Held More Accountable for Their Human Rights Responsibilities. PLoS Med 7(9): e1000344. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000344

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Water should be a human right

Jun 30, 2009

In this months PLoS Medicine Editorial, the editors argue that -- despite recent international objections -- access to clean water should be recognised as a human right.

Study: Pet care industry is booming

Jun 26, 2007

The American Chemical Society said U.S. pet owners spent $18.5 million last year on veterinary care, medications and other non-food pet supplies.

Recommended for you

The hunt for botanicals

Dec 19, 2014

Herbal medicine can be a double-edged sword and should be more rigorously investigated for both its beneficial and harmful effects, say researchers writing in a special supplement of Science.

Mozambique decriminalises abortion to stem maternal deaths

Dec 19, 2014

Mozambique has passed a law permitting women to terminate unwanted pregnancies under specified conditions, a move hailed by activists in a country where clandestine abortions account for a large number of maternal deaths.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

GregHight
1 / 5 (1) Sep 28, 2010
Waht a socialist load of crap. If these people want to play pharmaceutical fairy, they need to start their own R&D departments and manufacturing facilities.

Greed, for a lack of a better word, is good. Profit motivation is what has given us these cutting edge drugs and the investors who invest in these drug companies don't owe third worlders or others anything! Don't mess with the economic engine that provides me and others a chance to buy cutting edge pharmaceuticles.

If you want get AIDS drugs for someone in Rhodesia, hold a bake sale or donate your own money. Just because you are in the business of making drugs for a profit does not make it your responsibility to take care of the poor huddled masses.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.