Funding the fight against malaria

A scientist prepares a blood sample in a laboratory at the Center for Scientific Research Caucaseco in the outskirts of Cali, Colombia, on April 25, 2012, during the World Day for the fight against malaria.

Jeremy Hobson: Well in Washington today, experts from the National Academy of Sciences will be looking for ways to bring down the cost of treating Malaria. The disease kills an estimated 650,000 people around the world every year -- most of them children.

Marketplace's Amy Scott reports.

Amy Scott: The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria has been testing a program in several African countries. The fund buys high quality anti-malaria drugs and then sells them to wholesalers at a deep discount.

Stanford economist Kenneth Arrow says the idea is to bring prices down so people don’t turn to cheaper -- and less effective -- alternatives.

Kenneth Arrow: To counterfeit drugs, to the old drugs that no longer work, to witchcraft. Or to nothing.

In most countries, he says, it’s worked. Ramanan Laxminarayan directs the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy.

Ramanan Laxminarayan: It lowered the price of the drugs, significantly, from anywhere from $8 to $12 before the pilot to between 50 cents and $1.50 after the pilot.

Stanford’s Kenneth Arrow estimates it would cost about $500 million a year to take the pilot global. So far the funding has come mostly from Europe. Arrow says to continue, the program needs support from the U.S.

I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.


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