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Contact: Andrew Hyde
press@plos.org
44-122-346-3345
Public Library of Science

Pharma must be held more accountable to its human rights responsibilities

In this week's PLoS Medicine, the Editors argue that drug companies should be held much more accountable for their human rights responsibilities to make medicines available and accessible to those in need. Despite decades of advocacy on the part of the access to medicines movement, and human rights guidelines developed in 2008 for pharmaceutical companies that make clear that their responsibilities go beyond stakeholder value to encompass human rights, there is inadequate accountability, say the Editors. "At the same time that the 825 billion dollar global pharmaceutical industry operates as society's chief developer and purveyor of life-saving medicine, two billion people around the world lack access to essential medicines. Such a persistent perversity demands more outrage," argue the Editors.

The editorial accompanies a series of viewpoints in a commissioned PLoS Medicine Debate on the topic of whether drug companies are living up to their human rights responsibilities. In the Debate, three unique perspectives are offered: Sofia Gruskin and Zyde Raad from the Harvard School of Public Health say more assessment is needed of human rights responsibilities; Geralyn Ritter, Vice President of Global Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility at Merck & Co. argues that multiple stakeholders could do more to help States deliver the right to health; and Paul Hunt and Rajat Khosla introduce Mr. Hunt's work as the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to the highest attainable standard of health (2002-2008), regarding the human rights responsibilities of pharmaceutical companies and access to medicines.

"The importance and significance of accountability in this area cannot be overstated," say the Editors. "Beyond an add-on or peripheral activity, the acknowledgement and promotion of human rights must become a regular, integrated aspect of the work of pharmaceutical companies. Better yet would also be an external, international body charged explicitly with monitoring the policies and practices of pharmaceutical companies and reporting publicly on the discharge of their right-to-health responsibilities."

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The PLoS Medicine Editorial- Drug Companies Should Be Held More Accountable for Their Human Rights Responsibilities

Funding: The authors are each paid a salary by the Public Library of Science, and they wrote this editorial during their salaried time.

Competing Interests: The authors' individual competing interests are at http://www.plosmedicine.org/static/editorsInterests.action. PLoS is funded partly through manuscript publication charges, but the PLoS Medicine Editors are paid a fixed salary (their salary is not linked to the number of papers published in the journal).

Citation: The PLoS Medicine Editors (2010) Drug Companies Should Be Held More Accountable for Their Human Rights Responsibilities. PLoS Med 7(9): e1000344. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000344

IN YOUR COVERAGE PLEASE USE THIS URL TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE PAPER: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000344

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: www.plos.org/press/plme-07-09-editorial.pdf

CONTACT:
Medicine_editors@plos.org
press@plos.org


The PLoS Medicine Debate: Moving Toward Assessment by Sofia Gruskin, Zyde Raad

Funding: No specific funding was received for this piece.

Competing Interests: SG is director of and ZR is program manager at the Program on International Health and Human Rights (PIHHR) at Harvard School of Public Health. PIHHR has received funding from the Merck Company Foundation for a several-year project exploring the roles and responsibilities of the pharmaceutical industry as well as other state and non-state actors with regard to alleviating disease burdens worldwide.

Citation: Gruskin S, Raad Z (2010) Are Drug Companies Living Up to Their Human Rights Responsibilities? Moving Toward Assessment. PLoS Med 7(9):e1000310. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000310

IN YOUR COVERAGE PLEASE USE THIS URL TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE PAPER:

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000310

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: www.plos.org/press/plme-07-09-gruskin.pdf

CONTACT:
Sofia Gruskin
sgruskin@hsph.harvard.edu
press@plos.org


The PLoS Medicine Debate: The Perspective of the Former United Nations Special Rapporteur (2002-2008) by Paul Hunt and Rajat Khosla

Funding: No specific funding was received for this article.

Competing Interests: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and cannot be attributed to any organization.

Citation: Hunt P, Khosla R (2010) Are Drug Companies Living Up to Their Human Rights Responsibilities? The Perspective of the Former United Nations Special Rapporteur (2002-2008). PLoS Med 7(9): e1000330. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000330

IN YOUR COVERAGE PLEASE USE THIS URL TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE PAPER:

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000330

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: www.plos.org/press/plme-07-09-hunt.pdf

CONTACT:
paulhunt28@yahoo.co.uk
press@plos.org


The PLoS Medicine Debate: The Merck Perspective by Geralyn Ritter

Funding: No specific funding was received for this piece.

Competing Interests: Geralyn Ritter is Vice President, Global Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility at Merck & Co. and holds equity in Merck.

Citation: Ritter GS (2010) Are Drug Companies Living Up to Their Human Rights

Responsibilities? The Merck Perspective. PLoS Med 7(9): e1000343. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000343

IN YOUR COVERAGE PLEASE USE THIS URL TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE PAPER:

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000343

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: www.plos.org/press/plme-07-09-ritter.pdf

CONTACT:
Geralyn Ritter
geralyn.ritter@merck.com
press@plos.org



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