Lower Prices for Medicines Urged in Poor Countries

Research on Lesser-Known Products Also Touted

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican has advocated lower prices for medicines in poor countries.

Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, made the appeal in an address delivered to the 54th World Health Assembly, held in Geneva from May 14-22.

In his May 16 address, published today by the Vatican Press Office, the head of the Vatican delegation affirmed that the Church "recognizes the intellectual ownership of pharmaceutical patents, on the condition that they respect the international well-being of health and the conditions foreseen by proper national and international legislation."

The Church also has consistently taught that "there is a ´social mortgage´ on all private property," he said.

Archbishop Barragán noted that "the ´social mortgage´ which, as the Pope affirms, also weighs heavily on patents, must allow the lowering of medicine prices as well as those of all science and medical technology products."

The archbishop affirmed that it is necessary "to differentiate the price of pharmaceuticals destined for markets in industrialized countries from that in developing countries. It is also necessary to promote pharmaceutical research on lesser-known products or those destined for the cure of specific illnesses in developing countries."

"Furthermore," he said, "it is necessary to expand the list of generic medicines destined for the majority of the worldwide population, and to promote national legislation and international agreements in order to counter the monopoly of a few pharmaceutical industries and thus bring down prices, in particular, of products destined for developing countries. Finally, it would be necessary to promote agreements for the proper transfer of health-care technology to these countries."