November 19, 2013 | Posted By Jane Jankowski, LMSW, MS
Overshadowed by the brouhaha about the faulty Obamacare enrollment websites was an article that illustrated a far more egregious oversight in healthcare delivery priorities. A brief piece published in the New York Times noted that drug development priorities have continued to neglect diseases that primarily affect the world’s poorest. Though the supporting article published in The Lancet notes that drug development for such disease has not halted, vaccines and new treatments for conditions including malaria, worm and diarrheal disease, and tuberculosis are not being developed at a rate that reflects appropriate concern given the numbers of people afflicted by these conditions.

With just 4% of new drugs targeting what are considered neglected diseases, it seems reasonable to question the broader goals of those who conduct research and development endeavors. Historically, vaccination has been proven to be remarkably effective at preventing diseases that were once considered scourges, such as smallpox, polio, and diphtheria to give a very short list. The goals were simple – to halt the spread of disease through prevention. Grounded in the principle of beneficence, the research and development was aimed at reducing loss of life, suffering, and serving mankind. While I want to believe that medical research remains intent of the same principles, it is concerning that the world’s poorest are left behind when it comes to the scourges that still affect their regions.

Groups that advocate for the improvement of world health deserve our recognition and support in efforts to draw attention to this problem. The talents of pharmaceutical researchers are needed in order to ensure safe and effective prevention can be provided to those most at risk for illnesses in the neglected disease categories. Funding sources ought to share the obligation to effect progress in this area by granting dollars at rates which will demonstrate a commitment to world health needs. 

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.

3 comments | Topics: Global Health , Pharmaceuticals , Vaccines


James Finnerty, M.D, M.A

James Finnerty, M.D, M.A wrote on 11/19/13 3:08 PM

Very troubling situation and certainly one that does require attention and application of resources but, when we see all the problems with the ACA, one wonders if there ever will be a solution.
Jim Finnerty
Athene Aberdeen

Athene Aberdeen wrote on 11/19/13 9:49 PM

Perhaps the WHO should be "reminded" about this state of affairs. Research ought not to come from one country surely?

Titilayo wrote on 11/20/13 3:58 AM

It really appreciate your blog.But i need to know more about it.thanks

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