GOT PILLS? MILLIONS DON"T
Imagine you are stricken with a life-threatening disease and will die within the year. Your doctor, if you can find one, tells you that the medicine you need each year to live costs 30 times all the money that you earn in a year. Or that the only treatment available is a very painful arsenic-based drug created 50 years ago. You are also told that this drug when injected, internally burns your body and can swell your brain causing convulsions, coma, and death. You have a 1/20 chance of being killed by your treatment. Even though newer, more effective drugs exist you are told, they are not available.
You are finally told that if you can try to live long enough without treatment, you might be treated with a new drug. The only pharmaceutical company in the world that makes the drug stopped the drug's unprofitable production a year ago. However, the discovery of a very profitable cosmetic use for the drug as an anti-facial hair cream costing $54/tube, has forced the company to restart its production of the drug. You will never be able to afford the drug but you might have a 1/100 chance of receiving a supply of the drug in time to treat your illness before you die.
This is the reality for millions in the developing world who suffer from infectious diseases. Many of the 14 million deaths from these diseases each year could have been prevented, but the medicines to treat them are too expensive, ineffective, highly toxic, or are no longer produced by pharmaceutical companies.
Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres ("MSF") is an independent, non-governmental international humanitarian voluntary organization that delivers emergency medical care in over 85 countries. MSF was awarded the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize.
In its 30 years of working in some of the world's poorest regions, MSF has found that there are fewer and fewer effective treatment choices for its patients. Market forces drive the research and development of new medicines such that the world's poor are not a "profitable" market. The research and development model must change. Change requires political will and financial decisions from global pharmaceutical companies, governments, and international organizations.
MSF is sponsoring an Access to Medicines Campaign in 2002-2003 in Europe and the US to encourage a wider public to bring about that change. The campaign's traveling exhibit housed in a 48' trailer and staffed by returned MSF medical field volunteers visits 30 cities in the US in 2002.
The Access exhibit profiles five patients from Doctors Without Borders' projects around the world, each with a treatable infectious disease. By putting the visitor in the situation of one of the five patients and offering a "diagnosis" with an experienced medical field volunteer, the visitor quickly experiences the need for better access to medical treatment in poor countries.
Come and visit the exhibit.
Meet experienced Doctors Without Borders medical field volunteers and staff. Join a global movement of concerned citizens who believe that people in developing countries have the right to access to essential medicines.
The MSF Access exhibit is open Thursday, 25 July through Saturday, 27 July at Pioneer Courthouse Square, 10AM-6PM.