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From: The Socialist issue 880, 25 November 2015: Back doctors' strikes

Search site for keywords: Pharmaceutical - Profit system - Profit - Medical - Health - Drugs - Doctors

Antibiotic-resistant diseases warning: profit system holds back urgent medical research

Microscope image of killer E. coli bacteria, photo by NIAID (Creative Commons)

Microscope image of killer E. coli bacteria, photo by NIAID (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Scientists have again warned of the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria - bringing closer a scenario the media calls "antibiotic apocalypse". Researchers believe doctors prescribing the drugs too often, and blanket use in intensive farming, have accelerated the evolution of resistant strains. But why hasn't medical science developed new treatments? Claire Job, nurse and Socialist Party member, responds.

Drug-resistant infections could kill an extra ten million people every year by 2050. A potential 'post-antibiotic era' is fundamentally due to the profit system.

The bosses knew it was coming. It has been nearly 30 years since the last new class of antibiotics was released.

But capitalists do not have the capacity to plan ahead. Shareholders demand profits today - not health benefits for humankind tomorrow!

Governments blame health professionals and toy with the idea of financial penalties for doctors. But at the heart of the problem is big pharma. It has largely ignored the work of developing new drugs - in favour of medicines that are less costly and more profitable.

We need to remove the profit motive from medical research and development. This means nation-alising the pharmaceutical industry under the democratic control of workers and the community.

It is only by eradicating the 'risk to profits' that innovation can truly flourish. Almost all major technological advancements have originated in the public sector.

A democratic plan of research and production could focus the industry on essential work. Public ownership would pool its huge material and intellectual resources, and eliminate the barriers of patents and trade secrets.

Socialist planning is the only way to protect the health of people today and into tomorrow.







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