Are pharmaceutical companies too powerful?
Hi! I’m Akanksha and I will be Head Chair of the Health Committee. According to the W.H.O.,
the global pharmaceutical industry is worth about $300 billion a year and this figure is
expected to increase in the near future. The pharmaceutical industry is based on making
profits out of people’s illness, and this has led to a long standing feeling that it cannot act in
a moral way. However, the main question is, do they have too much power?
• Pharmaceutical companies fund the majority of clinical trials into their products –
and there is a long history of statistical manipulation and pressure on researchers to
• They also fund most of the research into new drugs, meaning they can choose the
most profitable, long-term conditions to study, neglecting diseases which occur in
the developing world, where people have less money to pay for medicines.
• Patents allow a drug company to control the sale of their drugs for a certain period
of time. One example of a company taking advantage of this is when Schering-Plough
produced the drug loratidine. Just before the patent ran out, the price of the drug
was increased massively. Is this exploitation?
• Pharmaceutical companies set high prices for medicines for the developing world,
which are often much higher than people there can afford to pay. The companies
argue that they need these prices in order to fund their research and development
(R&D). However, the W.H.O. states that the industry as a whole spends about twice
• Pharmaceutical companies are, in the end, businesses, which need to make money
to survive, and taking advantage of patents al ows them to make money to fund new
• Further regulation of the pharmaceutical industry could be seen as an attack on
• During their research, the pharmaceutical industry discovers many useful new drugs,
and regulating it may reduce this entrepreneurial output. For example, drugs such as
Prozac and Viagra were discovered by pharmaceutical companies.
Direction of debate:
• What are your country’s views about the regulation of the pharmaceutical industry?
How far do they regulate their industry already?
• Should each nation decide how far to regulate the industry in its own country, or
should there be the same level of regulation worldwide?
• Should pharmaceutical companies be obliged to set prices in proportion to how
• How can we increase research into less profitable diseases?
• How can we improve the fairness of studies conducted within the pharmaceutical
• If the pharmaceutical industry was regulated further, what specific measures could
be put in place to make the industry fairer but still allow it to make a profit?
• Should drug companied be al owed to advertise, and if so, to whom? (i.e. the general
I hope you enjoy researching this topic. If you have any questions at al please do not
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