Arnold Kling  

"It's Their Fault"

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Nick Schultz cites work by Amir Attaran showing that drug company patents are not an obstacle to health care in poor countries--in fact, drug companies do not even bother to obtain patents in the poorest countries.


Attaran's research concludes that "poverty, not patents, imposes the greater limitation on access."

The "economic data leave no doubt that the failure of billions of people to receive necessary therapies is largely a consequence of economic policies that are in need of study and reform by public health scholars," Attaran says.


This strikes me as so obvious that you would not even need a study to show it, but Attaran's research is "controversial" with many activist groups.

Along similar lines, I quote Gary Becker as saying about poverty in the African and Muslim world, "It's their fault." By that he means not that it is the fault of poor people themselves, but it is the fault of anti-market policies followed in those countries.

Blaming drug companies for deaths in other countries due to disease also is an example of what I call Hating the Solution.

For Discussion. What articles have you read that seem to describe realistically the issues with public health in poor countries?


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COMMENTS (2 to date)
Jervis Ninehammer writes:

Recent comment cites the availability of clean water supplies as the most serious threat to public health in poor countries.

dsquared writes:

Come on, Arnold, this is very weak stuff.

For anyone reading, the trick being played here is an equivocation around the term "poor countries". The big issue with respect to drug patents referred to Brazil and South Africa, two countries which, pre 2001, were finding it impossible to buy enough patented retroviral drugs to tackle their huge and growing AIDS problems. Since these two countries are classified "middle income", work like this doesn't cover them.

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