Ring-fencing medical knowledge is one of the great grotesqueries of our age
By Johann Hari
"This is the story of one of the great unspoken scandals of our times. Today, the people across the world who most need life-saving medicine are being prevented from producing it. Here's the latest example: factories across the poor world are desperate to start producing their own cheaper Tamiflu to protect their populations – but they are being sternly told not to. Why? So rich drug companies can protect their patents – and profits. There is an alternative to this sick system, but we are choosing to ignore it.
To understand this tale, we have to start with an apparent mystery. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been correctly warning for months that if swine flu spreads to the poorest parts of the world, it could cull hundreds of thousands of people – or more. Yet they have also been telling the governments of the poor world not to go ahead and produce as much Tamiflu – the only drug we have to reduce the symptoms, and potentially save lives – as they possibly can......"