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How Racism and Greed Have Kept the World from an Ebola Cure

ebola-patientEbola was first discovered nearly 40 years ago in Africa, so why are we now only starting to see the first signs of a possible drug to treat the deadly disease? Two words: racism and greed.

Though the disease has crept its way into our imaginations across the globe and has become a synonym for instant bodily terror, like a scene from a horror flick, the private pharmaceutical industry has shown very little interest in putting money behind the research needed to find a cure. That’s because the disease has thus far been contained in Africa, in countries filled with poor, dark people. For-profit companies see very little upside in aggressively expending resources under such circumstances. There’s much more money to be made going after drugs to treat erectile dysfunction or baldness.

In other words, ailments that can affect white men.

According to the latest numbers released Thursday, more than 1,900 people have died from this latest Ebola outbreak in West Africa. There have been other deadly outbreaks over the last 40 years, but none as bad as this one.

Some may want to play a numbers game, concluding that although Ebola is about as scary a specter as the germ world has ever thrown at humans, its numbers are still relatively tiny. But you should consider this point made in a recent issue of The New Yorker:

“Diseases like malaria and tuberculosis, which together kill two million people a year, have received less attention from pharmaceutical companies than high cholesterol,” the magazine reported. “Then, there’s what the World Health Organization calls ‘neglected tropical diseases,’ such as Chagas disease and dengue; they affect more than a billion people and kill as many as half a million a year. One study found that of the more than fifteen hundred drugs that came to market between 1975 and 2004, just ten were targeted at these maladies.”

In other words, if the pharmaceuticals want big numbers, malaria and dengue will pay off on an enormous scale. But once again the small problem — those afflicted tend to be Black and poor.

According to the World Health Organization, the global pharmaceuticals market is worth $300 billion a year, expected to rise to $400 billion within the next three years. With the work of San Diego-based Mapp Pharmaceuticals, which developed the Ebola drug ZMapp, in addition to the work of several other companies, we know that the brainpower exists out there to find an Ebola cure. So it is, frankly, an outrage that it has taken this long for the industry to focus seriously on Ebola — and even now Mapp has been able to produce just a few doses of ZMapp.

As the WHO pointed out, the 10 largest drug companies control more than one-third of the market, several with sales of more than $10 billion a year and profit margins in excess of 30 percent. Six are in the U.S. and four in Europe. If these cash cows aren’t interested in Ebola, the needle isn’t going to move forward very quickly.

Even the WHO publicly recognizes the huge flaw in the system, stating on its website, “The private sector dominates R&D (research and development), spending millions of dollars each year developing new drugs for the mass market. The profit imperative ensures that the drugs chosen for development are those most likely to provide a high return on the company’s investment. As a result, drugs for use in the industrialized world are prioritized over ones for use in the South, where many patients would be unable to pay for them.” succinctly highlighted the greed and racism of the system with this statistic: “Of the 850 health products approved by regulators between 2000 and 2011, only 37 focused on neglected diseases.”

What’s the takeaway here? Unless governments and the WHO can come together and revamp the research and development system, these pharmaceutical behemoths will continue to focus exclusively on their bottom line — while the poor and dark people of the world continue to suffer and die in silence.


What people are saying

16 thoughts on “How Racism and Greed Have Kept the World from an Ebola Cure

  1. They want Africa. They desperately need Africa, without Africa's resources many countries would shut down within months, America within a year. They do not want African people to be paid for their resources, they want it free, or pay bare minimum prices, for raw material, take it, manufacture it, turn around and sell it for wholesale and retail prices. Africa is so rich, they hate that blacks own these rich resources. I believe they made ebola and HIV to rid Africa of her people the black Africans. I do not believe this will happen, before this effort is complete, they all will have disappeared from the planet. African people are the only indigenous people of the planet, the planet will not do good without African poeple, we help to keep the planet in balance. I feel so bad about what is happening to black people, before all the suffering of black people comes to an end, it appears this must happen, I also believe when the universe correct these problems and suffering of black people, when it is all over, we will come back to where we once were, on the planet, nobody here but African people, who are not toms, religious fanatic, only critical thinkers, builders, creators, love themsellves, and all black people, and continue on to make Arica the power house it was intended to be.

  2. Robert Myrie says:

    The mind boggles.Thank God that HIV killed as many as it did and baffled the scientist until that came up a series of drugs to check it.This kind of thinking is scary, for everyone as we all have a little bit of everyone in us.As they say 'Your six people away from another relative"

  3. If President Obama gets his way Afrika will be first to be recognizes in everything in America while Russia suffers as well as those who would follow her Ebola AIDS HIV will be rid of

  4. If President Obama gets his way Afrika will be first to be recognizes in everything in America while Russia suffers as well as those who would follow her Ebola AIDS HIV will be rid of

  5. ebola is a man made virus.eugenics.the Soros,buffets n population growth control strategies.CIA is responsible.

  6. The white man brought these damn on our motherland! They will pay dearly for it.

  7. Excuse me, they brought these damn diseases.

  8. Why are you on this site if you hate blacks so much? What is it? Are you a masochist? Is this an obsession? That's what it is. An obsession. You have some sort of twisted obsession with blacks. I mean come on out with it. Logically, if you hate something so much, you stay away from it. But it seems that you can't really get away. It's like a strange hate obsession that you have. Maybe you need professional help or something. I don't know. You and all of those guys on stormfront and what have you, all have this sickness. This obsession with blacks. You have to follow black sites, read about blacks on news feeds, tear down blacks to feel better about yourselves, while neglecting the problems in your own community. I mean why don't you concern yourselves with your own women? Oh right, I'm sure you will twist that statement around to some other blacks are devils statement. It's predictable. But really, I just have never seen such fascination. It's totally bizarre. It really is. Like the saddest, strangest thing ever.

  9. Helena Palma says:

    racist and ignorant

  10. Helena Palma As a member of the white supremacy/racist/racism system you can never call anyone a raist unless it is a member of your group. You never thought about that did you? I have nothing to do with racism.

  11. Helena Palma says:

    Nzingha Shabaka I am sorry, but my comentary was to Travis Mack, concerning to his ideas exposed here.

  12. Travis Mack Such harsh cruel words. What has made you so bitter. Progressive, intelligent people don't think the way you do.

  13. Debra Wells says:

    Travis Mack You are so steeped in the fallacy of "white supremacy" that the hate you have blinds you and is eating you up, just as it is doing to the rest of this country! You should try reading and educating yourself to the contributions of Black people instead of displaying your utter ignorance with a post of the kind that you made! What an idiot you are!

  14. Debra Wells says:

    Travis Mack Oh yeah, you are the epitome of critical thinking, now aren't you! (NOT) Any real promotion of critical thinking would not include the garbage that you spew!

  15. just like aids was some years ago… wake up… stop trusting them and get with our own stop leaving the lands in their hands… to live in their countries…

  16. So and what do you suggest as a solution… if no d fix then you too are part of the problem…

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