Distribution of drugs
Like disease screening, the distribution of drugs at cost in the
country of collection is a provision industry is unlikely to accept. Merck &
Co., Inc. has been praised in the press for distributing Mectizan in Africa for
the treatment of river blindness.8 But Mectizan is used as an animal
anti-parasitic so the manufacturing capacity is already in place, the dose is
small and inexpensive to ship, and Merck receives tax incentives for its
donation (Harvard Business School Case Study, 1992; WSJ, 1992). The free
distribution of most other drugs would be far more difficult and expensive.
Some firms have discounted drug prices in exchange for access to
markets, such as HMOs or countries like Mexico with rapidly rising demands for
pharmaceuticals. But few developing countries would qualify under these terms,
and drugs distributed to developing countries at cost could potentially wind up
in the black market. But source countries should have easy and affordable access
to drugs developed from their genetic and biochemical resources, and contractual
agreements can stipulate that companies license to the collector or their
collaborators the right to manufacture a drug for use in that country.
From an equity standpoint, these and other non-monetary forms of
compensation seem a minimal quid pro quo for collectors'
collaboration with industry. By their nature, however, contractual agreements
can provide only limited direct benefits outside of the intended purpose of the
agreement and can reflect only what each party feels it can offer. A
company-collector contract represents the parties' mutual understanding of
the market value of the products, service and consideration exchanged.
Collectors who are dissatisfied with the terms to which companies will agree and
with the value placed on their products or services must look outside the limits
of contractual agreements to national or international law and