Last month the Missing Medicines campaign, of which T1International is proudly a member, launched a new interactive game to illustrate the problems with the global research and development model.
This experience is something that everyone should a few minutes to try. We all know that some of the favourite words of companies like Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi (the big three insulin producers) are “the situation is complex.” While that irritating statement may hold some truth, Pharmadess shows you exactly why treatments for conditions like male pattern baldness and hay fever get much more investment from pharma than, say, life-saving Tuberculosis (TB) or HIV medication.
Because 95% of people living with TB reside in low and middle-income countries, the ‘market’ for TB does not offer pharmaceutical companies a sufficient return on investment. Lower costs of development and bigger returns for less life-threatening treatments make them much more profitable, and therefore pharma invests there. As a result, only two new TB drugs have come onto the market in the last 50 years while hay fever has received a whopping 15 new treatments in the same period.
While Pharmadness doesn’t specifically focus on diabetes, it is important because it also gives you a sense of how cutthroat the world of pharmaceutical giants is. Playing the game, you will see that it is basically impossible to balance the pressure for profit with any sort of conscience. Profit is continually being prioritised over the health – and the lives – of patients.
You’ll feel the pressure as the CEO when you want to save lives but you know you cannot ‘win’ the approval of your managers unless you retain a 20%+ profit margin. While some aspects of reality are simplified in Pharmadness, it strongly illustrates just a few of the reasons that make it clear the system truly is broken.
The game is part of the wider Missing Medicines campaign that is calling for a new global agreement on the way we research and develop new medicines. This includes an end to patent monopolies that keep insulin prices high, and transparency of medicine pricing so that companies must justify their unaffordable pricing models.
Play today and spread the word to support a different model, one that prioritises health research according to need, not profit.