The three articles relating to pharmaceutical policies are very informative and reflective of how far we have come regarding the availability of essential drugs in particular for HIV/AIDS in developing countries. Yet many of the issues regarding costs, availability, generics, continue to be works in progress.

Research & Development is costly, risky, and time consuming for the pharmaceutical companies. The approval process of promising clinical trial drug can take as long as 10-15 years and in the end the drug may prove to be a failure. The costs of these failures are always passed on to the consumers (patient/insurance companies, country/government doing the purchasing).

According to a Consumer Watchdog website, the top 10 pharmaceutical companies took in a total of $293 billion in global sales in the year 2003 the last year for which figures were available. During the same time period these companies spent $37.9 billion on research and development or 13% of sales and $96.4 billion or 33% of sales for marketing and administrative costs! Is this really necessary? In the age of computer technology would a simple web site and IT manager not be sufficient.

Suggestions to consider: As was done with the tobacco industry, would it not be beneficial to restrict advertisement to specialized medical journals or trade publications. Should such pharmaceuticals companies who advertise be taxed with the revenues going back to their R&D division or providing compensation to various developing countries?

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