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Is Access To Medicine A Corporate Social Responsibility?

Czubala, Karin (2009)
Department of Law
Abstract
The progress made in the field of patents on pharmaceuticals the last fifteen years, has been of continuous change and adaptation. From the introduction of the TRIPS Agreement in 1995, where patents on pharmaceuticals became a necessity for all Member States of the WTO, to today, where a ratification of the TRIPS Amendment is ongoing, and might be a mean to enhance access to medicine for all people. The aim was to make the flexibilities in TRIPS, i.e. parallel importing and compulsory licensing easier to use, but instead resulted in pharmaceutical companies deciding to lower their prices on pharmaceuticals in developing States. This introduction of price discrimination favouring poor people has lead to enhancing access to medicine, and may... (More)
The progress made in the field of patents on pharmaceuticals the last fifteen years, has been of continuous change and adaptation. From the introduction of the TRIPS Agreement in 1995, where patents on pharmaceuticals became a necessity for all Member States of the WTO, to today, where a ratification of the TRIPS Amendment is ongoing, and might be a mean to enhance access to medicine for all people. The aim was to make the flexibilities in TRIPS, i.e. parallel importing and compulsory licensing easier to use, but instead resulted in pharmaceutical companies deciding to lower their prices on pharmaceuticals in developing States. This introduction of price discrimination favouring poor people has lead to enhancing access to medicine, and may be an important step taken towards realising the right to health as a human right. Aspects of international human rights law relating to health, life and access to medicine are discussed and found to have legal support in the ICESCR and the ICCPR. Two bodies of laws are in conflict: the patents on pharmaceuticals due to the TRIPS Agreement, and the right to access to essential medicine. It is impossible to say that one is superior the other as they are both interdependent human rights. The problem that people do not have access to essential medicine still exists, and an investigation of whether CSR could be a solution was the next step in the analysis. The conclusions indicated that pharmaceutical companies are economical entities, which are obliged to aim for economical profit maximisation. An economical aim may unfortunately not be compatible with a social responsibility. At the same time, social welfare conducts may coincide with economical profit due to the corporation receiving good will and reputation. Still, the obligation of fulfilling access to medicine should be a responsibility of governments, NGOs and economical entities together. In a newly presented report, made by Oxfam International, tough criticism against the pharmaceutical industry was given. They are claimed not to perform enough in facilitating access to medicine. Instead they are wanted to lower prices, remove patents on essential drugs in developing States and to engage R&amp&semicD in diseases prevalent in developing countries. Temporary solutions, such as donation programmes, are simply not enough according to the report. The pharmaceutical industry on the other hand claims that the flexibilities in the TRIPS Agreement are sufficient and that the price on medicine probably is not the major reason to lacking access to medicine. The underlying reason is poverty as such, and only pharmaceutical companies cannot be the sole actors in providing this access. It is impossible to force corporations to give up their economical profit in order to improve global health. Instead, it should be view as a global challenge for everyone to give incentives also for corporations to extent their efforts in increasing access to medicine. (Less)
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author
Czubala, Karin
supervisor
organization
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
EG-rätt, Immaterialrätt
language
English
id
1556804
date added to LUP
2010-03-08 15:55:20
date last changed
2010-03-08 15:55:20
@misc{1556804,
  abstract     = {The progress made in the field of patents on pharmaceuticals the last fifteen years, has been of continuous change and adaptation. From the introduction of the TRIPS Agreement in 1995, where patents on pharmaceuticals became a necessity for all Member States of the WTO, to today, where a ratification of the TRIPS Amendment is ongoing, and might be a mean to enhance access to medicine for all people. The aim was to make the flexibilities in TRIPS, i.e. parallel importing and compulsory licensing easier to use, but instead resulted in pharmaceutical companies deciding to lower their prices on pharmaceuticals in developing States. This introduction of price discrimination favouring poor people has lead to enhancing access to medicine, and may be an important step taken towards realising the right to health as a human right. Aspects of international human rights law relating to health, life and access to medicine are discussed and found to have legal support in the ICESCR and the ICCPR. Two bodies of laws are in conflict: the patents on pharmaceuticals due to the TRIPS Agreement, and the right to access to essential medicine. It is impossible to say that one is superior the other as they are both interdependent human rights. The problem that people do not have access to essential medicine still exists, and an investigation of whether CSR could be a solution was the next step in the analysis. The conclusions indicated that pharmaceutical companies are economical entities, which are obliged to aim for economical profit maximisation. An economical aim may unfortunately not be compatible with a social responsibility. At the same time, social welfare conducts may coincide with economical profit due to the corporation receiving good will and reputation. Still, the obligation of fulfilling access to medicine should be a responsibility of governments, NGOs and economical entities together. In a newly presented report, made by Oxfam International, tough criticism against the pharmaceutical industry was given. They are claimed not to perform enough in facilitating access to medicine. Instead they are wanted to lower prices, remove patents on essential drugs in developing States and to engage R&amp&semicD in diseases prevalent in developing countries. Temporary solutions, such as donation programmes, are simply not enough according to the report. The pharmaceutical industry on the other hand claims that the flexibilities in the TRIPS Agreement are sufficient and that the price on medicine probably is not the major reason to lacking access to medicine. The underlying reason is poverty as such, and only pharmaceutical companies cannot be the sole actors in providing this access. It is impossible to force corporations to give up their economical profit in order to improve global health. Instead, it should be view as a global challenge for everyone to give incentives also for corporations to extent their efforts in increasing access to medicine.},
  author       = {Czubala, Karin},
  keyword      = {EG-rätt,Immaterialrätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Is Access To Medicine A Corporate Social Responsibility?},
  year         = {2009},
}