NEW YORK – Every year, millions of people die from preventable and treatable diseases, especially in poor countries. In many cases, lifesaving medicines can be cheaply mass-produced, but are sold at prices that block access to those who need them. And many die simply because there are no cures or vaccines, because so little of the world’s valuable research talent and limited resources is devoted to addressing the diseases of the poor.
This state of affairs represents a failure of economics and law that urgently needs to be corrected. The good news is that there are now opportunities for change, most promisingly through an international effort headed by the World Health Organization that would begin to fix the broken intellectual-property regime that is holding back the development and availability of cheap drugs.