This project analyses and compares the prices of drugs used in the treatment of diseases across developing countries. What impact do patents have on prices, and have survival rates improved?

  • €19,225 Budget in Euros
  • 2015 Final release date
  • 4 Round winner
  • 3 Locations
  • 7 Durations in months

This project analyses and compares the prices of drugs used in the treatment of the most common diseases. The focus of the story is mostly on low-income countries and diseases with the greatest impact in these areas, such as tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis, dengue, HIV, cancer, and respiratory and diarrheal diseases. After a series of interviews with experts from the health and development sector, the team selects the most significant treatments and vaccines, gathers and cross-references data from different official sources and performs a comparative analysis, highlighting price differences with European countries.

The project investigates the impact of pharmaceutical patents on prices, looking at the legal battle between the South African government and pharmaceutical companies about reform of the current patent law. In addition, the story deals with previous cases in other countries, as Brazil, one of the first countries to overturn an HIV treatment patent. Seven years after this decision was taken, the team travels there to investigate the impact on the lives of patients. Have survival rates improved? Has it allowed broader access? From the general (global data and analysis on patents) to the particular (real stories), this story narrates the impact of the price and the growth of illegal drugs in Ghana.

The team visits health centres and areas where specialised health NGOs are working to understand, first hand, how the prices of medicines affect the patients and how greater access to drugs could be a radical change in the number of deaths and the quality of life of many citizens. This project aims to show the importance of access to treatments and vaccines, and the differences between countries, while creating an information repository useful to other researchers and activists.

Cover photo: © Eva Belmonte, Antonio Villareal & Cristina Moreno de Alborán under the Creative Commons license

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