¿Tuberculosis, o pérdida del cabello? La necesidad de replantear las prioridades de la investigación médica

PRINCETON – En un mundo ideal, la cantidad de fondos que destinamos a la investigación médica para prevenir o curar una enfermedad sería proporcional a su seriedad y al número de personas que la padecen. En el mundo real, el 90% del dinero utilizado para investigación médica se centra en males que son responsables de apenas el 10% de las muertes y discapacidad causadas por enfermedades en todo el globo.

En otras palabras, las enfermedades que causan 9 décimas partes de lo que la Organización Mundial de la Salud denomina "la carga global de enfermedades" reciben apenas un décimo del esfuerzo de investigación médica del mundo. Como resultado, millones de personas mueren cada año por males para los que no se están desarrollando nuevos medicamentos, mientras que las compañías farmacéuticas destinan miles de millones a desarrollar curas para la disfunción eréctil y la calvicie.

Sin embargo, culpar a las farmacéuticas es una respuesta demasiado fácil. No pueden justificar el desarrollo de nuevos medicamentos, a menos que puedan esperar recuperar los costes con las ventas. Si destinan sus esfuerzos a enfermedades que afectan a personas adineradas, o a gente que vive en países con seguros de salud nacionales, podrán patentar cualquier nuevo medicamento que descubran. Durante los 20 años que dura la patente, tendrán el monopolio sobre su venta y estarán en posición de cobrar altos precios por él.

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