Every year nine million people are diagnosed with tuberculosis, every day over 13,400 people are infected with AIDs, and every thirty seconds malaria kills a child. For most of the world, critical medications that treat these deadly diseases are scarce, costly, and growing obsolete, as access to first-line drugs remains out of reach and resistance rates rise. Rather than focusing research and development on creating affordable medicines for these deadly global diseases, pharmaceutical companies instead invest in commercially lucrative products for more affluent customers.
Nicole Hassoun argues that everyone has a human right to health and to access to essential medicines, and she proposes the Global Health Impact (global-health-impact.org/new) system as a means to guarantee those rights. Her proposal directly addresses the pharmaceutical industry's role: it rates pharmaceutical companies based on their medicines' impact on improving global health, rewarding highly-rated medicines with a Global Health Impact label.
Global Health Impact: Expanding Access to Essential Medicines
(Oxford University Press, 2020) has three parts. The first makes the case for a human right to health and specifically access to essential medicines. Hassoun defends the argument against recent criticism of these proposed rights. The second section develops the Global Health Impact proposal in detail. The final section explores the proposal's potential applications and effects, considering the empirical evidence that supports it and comparing it to similar ethical labels. Through a thoughtful and interdisciplinary approach to creating new labeling, investment, and licensing strategies, Global Health Impact
demands an unwavering commitment to global justice and corporate responsibility.
Nicole Hassoun is Professor of Philosophy at Binghamton University and Visiting Scholar at Cornell University.
Claire Clark is a medical educator, historian of medicine, and associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine. She teaches and writes about health behavior in historical context.