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Drug Companies' Responsibility to Spend Money on Researching Medicines to Help Poorer Countries

Write about the following topic:


Some people say that drug companies have a responsibility to spend money on researching medicines that will help people in poorer countries. Others say the main responsibility of drug companies is to make money.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.


Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge and experiences.


You should write at least 250 words.


This is an IELTS Task 2 Essay Band 9 Sample Essay responding to the prompt "Some people say that drug companies have a responsibility to spend money on researching medicines that will help people in poorer countries. Others say the main responsibility of drug companies is to make money. Discuss both these views and give your own opinion."

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Sample Essay 1

The debate surrounding pharmaceutical companies' responsibilities oscillates between their duty to research medicines for impoverished nations and their pursuit of profit maximization. This essay posits that while financial viability is crucial for innovation, prioritizing global health equity is both ethical and beneficial in the long run.


Proponents of prioritizing research for less affluent countries argue that pharmaceutical giants, with their substantial resources, have a moral obligation to address the health disparities that plague these regions. Diseases like malaria and tuberculosis, largely eradicated in the developed world, continue to ravage poorer countries, partly due to the lack of profitable markets for such drugs. This perspective underscores a vision of global health as a collective responsibility, where the advancements in medicine serve as a beacon of hope for all humanity, not just the affluent. For instance, the development and distribution of the river blindness drug, Ivermectin, by Merck & Co. demonstrated how pharmaceutical companies could significantly impact public health without direct financial gain, fostering goodwill and potentially opening new markets.


Conversely, critics maintain that drug companies, as businesses, primarily owe their allegiance to shareholders, not societal health. They argue that research and development (R&D) require colossal investments, and without the promise of return, there would be little incentive to innovate. This view holds that profit generation fuels further research, suggesting a cycle where financial success enables the pursuit of more ambitious projects, including those that might benefit low-income countries indirectly. This pragmatic approach emphasizes the importance of a stable and lucrative business model as the foundation of sustainable pharmaceutical innovation.


In conclusion, while the pharmaceutical industry's responsibility to generate profit is undeniable, leveraging their capabilities for the broader good can create a symbiotic relationship between profitability and global health improvement. Prioritizing medicines for poorer countries not only fulfills a moral obligation but can also pave the way for long-term sustainable development, ensuring that advancements in health and medicine benefit the entire global community.


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Sample Essay 2

The debate over whether drug companies should prioritize financial gains or allocate resources for the development of medicines for impoverished nations is gaining increasing prominence. In navigating this complex issue, my thesis posits that while drug companies must prioritize profitability to sustain their business, they should also earmark a portion of their resources for the betterment of healthcare in underprivileged countries. This essay will elaborate on the humanitarian need for research aimed at poorer nations as well as the capitalist perspective that underscores the importance of profitability.


The notion that drug companies have a responsibility to spend money on researching medicines for impoverished nations stems from a humanitarian angle. For one, such an approach serves the greater good by ensuring that crucial medicines reach those who are most vulnerable and otherwise overlooked. For instance, the development of affordable antimalarial drugs has a direct and profound impact on African nations where malaria is endemic. In doing so, drug companies not only gain social capital but also expand their market reach, creating a win-win scenario for both parties.


On the flip side, the argument that the core responsibility of drug companies is to make money is based on capitalist principles. In a free-market economy, the primary duty of any company is towards its shareholders. Research and development (R&D) require enormous financial investment, and there is no guarantee of the commercial viability of a new drug. Therefore, focusing on diseases prevalent in wealthier nations, where consumers can afford expensive treatments, ensures a better return on investment. This enables companies to sustain their R&D pipelines, leading to the innovation of new medicines in the long run.


To sum up, the essay has explored the dual expectations placed upon drug companies: the humanitarian imperative to focus on healthcare needs in impoverished countries and the business necessity to generate profits. This intricate balance aligns closely with the question statement, affirming that drug companies can indeed harmonize their profit-making objectives with their social responsibilities.


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Sample Essay 3

The debate over the responsibilities of pharmaceutical corporations often centers around a moral dilemma: should they prioritize profit or invest in the health needs of impoverished nations? In this essay, I will discuss both perspectives and argue that while pharmaceuticals are inherently profit-driven entities, they also have an ethical obligation to address the pressing health needs of less affluent countries.


On the one hand, it's undeniable that pharmaceutical companies operate within a commercial paradigm, where research, development, and marketing of medicines require significant capital. For instance, the creation of drugs for rare diseases often involves hefty investments due to the limited target market. Consequently, setting prices that reflect these costs becomes crucial for recuperating investments and funding future research. Furthermore, these corporations have a duty to their shareholders and employees to generate profits. This capitalistic framework is foundational to their operation, prompting them to set prices that ensure sustainability.


However, a purely profit-driven approach can inadvertently marginalize vulnerable populations. High drug prices often render essential medications inaccessible to those in developing nations, exacerbating global health inequalities. For instance, the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa during the late 20th century highlighted this disparity. While antiretroviral treatments were available, their exorbitant costs made them unreachable for many, leading to countless preventable deaths. Such scenarios underline the moral obligation pharmaceuticals have beyond their commercial interests. Collaborative efforts, like the COVAX initiative for COVID-19 vaccines, demonstrate how these corporations can play a pivotal role in global health equity. By offering tiered pricing or donating medicines, they can contribute to a more just distribution of health resources globally.


In conclusion, pharmaceutical companies, while profit-driven, must also consider the global health implications of their pricing. Balancing commercial goals with ethical duties can lead to a fairer global health landscape.


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