Better Meds vs Local Economic Development

Yesterday I blogged about a new cherry-flavoured malaria drug, made by Novartis and marketed in Senegal, that kids (especially) would be less likely to spit out. (I suggested that, in some cases, yummy flavours might result in kids seeking out meds & overdosing, but that for a life-saving drug administered in less-than-ideal circumstances, the move made sense.)

OK, same story, but whole new angle:

According to this brief report, the new cherry-flavoured pill by Novartis threatens to put a Senegalese factory, which manufactures the yucky-tasting old-fashioned anti-malarial pills, out of business:

Launch of child malaria drug threatens local industry

…a child-friendly anti-malarial medicine, has been received with mixed feelings.

The medicine, launched in different African countries, is a product of Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), a Swiss non-profit company and Novartis, a multinational pharmaceutical.

“The only fear is that we have a factory manufacturing Anti-malarial drugs (Luzira-based Quality Chemicals),” Otaala [a government official] said.

OK, normally people think it a bad thing when big, foreign companies put small local companies out of business.

But in this case, the foreign product could save lives.

But wait a minute…the foreign product might save lives. But in a very poor country (and Senegal is one of the poorest in the world) local industry is really important. Local industry is what allows locals to afford anything, including medicines for their kids.


Well, let’s just say that this story has the makings of a terrific case-study.

2 comments so far

  1. Anonymous on

    one could argue that it is not an ethical issue as much as it is just simple bad luck for the Senegalese manufacturer. Likewise, it could have an unintended benefit of raising Senegalese productivity if the plant does retool to change its product line to better flavoured medicine. Did the plant managers not foresee the market change or did it just change too fast for any competent manager to predict? I am sure its a bitte pill to swallow. – Kevin McDonaldHalifax, Nova Scotia

  2. Anonymous on

    By developing, producing and efficently making available products that could reduce the suffering of millions of people, Novartis seems to be following it’s vision and purpose. Rather than regreting powerful foreign competition, the Senegalese government would pay better services to its people by ensuring that society as a whole develops in ways to sustain competitiveness and consistent progress-Rogerio Marques-Toronto, ON

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