The U.S. FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) mission is to protect public health by reviewing the safety, security and efficacy of medications and medical devices. U.S. law requires that prescription drugs be shown to be both safe and effective before they can be marketed to the public.
Some third world countries do not have the same rules and regulations. Safety is a concern, but affordability of legitimate medications is also a serious concern.
In the poorest parts of Asia and Africa, there are hospital pharmacies in big cities with stocks of older drugs. But medications for cancer, diabetes, asthma and heart disease are either non-existent or cost prohibitive. In Tanzania, a low-skilled employee would have to spend an entire month’s salary on a course of antibiotics for pneumonia.
Nearly all medications in poor countries are brought in by individuals rather than the state. Those who have to purchase high-cost prescription drugs often have to sell all of their possessions in hopes of keeping the family breadwinner alive.
Affordability is the key to improving accessibility to healthcare in these countries.
FDA Approved Medicines are Safer
Generics companies in India are helping some parts of Africa, where HIV/AIDS levels are some of the highest in the world. Some can now access AIDS medication for $300 per year.
There are also a few drug companies that are donating medication to poor countries, rather than trying to get into price wars to lower the cost of medicines.
But other drugs are still hard to come by or too expensive.
Affordable FDA approved medicines would give individuals in third world countries access to live-saving medication that’s safer than non-approved drugs.
Before drugs can be approved for marketing in the U.S., they undergo rigorous reviews by the FDA. The agency reviews the results of clinical and laboratory testing to determine if the product is safe and effective. The FDA doesn’t develop or test products, but it does review the data to make sure that drugs and medical devices are safe for use.
Even with its rigorous review process, bringing affordable FDA drugs into third world countries can be a challenge. But there are U.S. pharmaceutical wholesalers that can help bring these drugs into poorer countries.
Along with ensuring the safety of medications, FDA approved medicines are also genuine. In third world countries, there is the risk of taking counterfeit medications that can be ineffective or dangerous.
Affordability Improves Accessibility in Third World Countries
If FDA approved drugs are available at prices locals can afford, it greatly improves accessibility to important or life-saving medications.
There are economic benefits to ensuring that medications are affordable and accessible. Individuals who can obtain the treatment they need can return to work and become more productive members of society. Families can then enjoy improved financial security and may have the ability to put more money into the economy.
But ultimately, affordable FDA approved drugs save more lives. From a moral and humanitarian standpoint, that’s what’s most important. Treatment can also help slow or stop the spread of certain diseases, which helps protect neighboring populations.