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Access to drugs for non-communicable diseases should learn from HIV fight

Access to drugs for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) represents the latest treatment-access crisis, and will require a transformation in much like the fight for access to patented in developing countries did a decade ago.

Thomas Bollyky from the in Washington, DC, says in this week’s , that bitter disputes over access to patented HIV/AIDS medicines in developing countries transformed global health, “elevating as a foreign policy concern and helping to mobilize billions of dollars to research and distribute new therapies to meet the needs of the world’s poor.”

Now, he argues, a new fight over treatment access looms in areas like India, China, and other middle-income countries, which have “taken measures to circumvent patents on medicines for diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular and chronic respiratory illnesses – the noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) increasing most rapidly in low- and middle-income countries.”

Addressing this latest treatment-access crisis will require another transformation in global health, this time focusing on NCDs, low-cost interventions, and patient-centered strategies, says the author.


The author was salaried during writing by his employer, the Council on Foreign Relations. No specific funding was set aside or given for the writing of this paper. No funding bodies had any role in the writing, interviews, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Bollyky TJ (2013) . Access to Drugs for Treatment of Noncommunicable Diseases PLoS Med 10(7): e1001485. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001485

PLOS Medicine