Priorité à la tuberculose ou à la chute de cheveux ?

PRINCETON – Dans un monde idéal, les sommes que nous dépensons dans la recherche médicale pour prévenir ou soigner une maladie sont proportionnelles à la gravité de celle-ci et au nombre de personnes qui en sont atteintes. Dans la réalité, 90 % du budget de la recherche médicale sont consacrés aux causes de seulement 10 % des décès et handicaps.

En d’autres termes, seul un dixième de la recherche médicale mondiale porte sur les maladies responsables de neuf dixièmes de ce que l’Organisation mondiale de la santé appelle le « fardeau mondial de la maladie ». Résultat : des millions de personnes meurent chaque année de maladies en attente de traitements, tandis que les entreprises pharmaceutiques dépensent des millions pour lutter contre les troubles de l’érection et la calvitie.

Il est trop facile de tout mettre sur le dos des entreprises pharmaceutiques. En effet, elles ne peuvent justifier la conception de nouveaux médicaments à moins d'être sûres de pouvoir amortir leur coût. Si elles ciblent les maladies qui touchent des personnes aisées bénéficiant d’une couverture sociale nationale, elles peuvent faire breveter tout nouveau médicament. Durant les 20 années de vie du brevet, elles ont le monopole sur les ventes du médicament et peuvent exiger un prix élevé.

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