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Rich and poor could benefit from new drugs to treat incurable diseases. But only the poor are denied the life-saving drugs available to the rich. This report attempts to unravel the complexities of the medicines issue. The focus throughout is on the needs of the Third World poor. Chapter 1 assesses the role of medicines in creating better health. Chapters 2 to 6 highlight the special problems in the distribution, production and marketing of drugs in developing countries. Chapter 7 focuses on traditional medicine which remains the major source of health care for most of the world’s population. Chapters 8 and 9 describe constructive initiatives to improve health and the supply and use of essential drugs both at project level and on a wider national and international scale. These and the following chapter are concerned both with attempts to rationalise drug policies to benefit the majority and with obstacles to change. Chapter 10 also examines attitudes and policies in the major drug producing nations and their impact on drug needs and policies in developing countries. Finally, in Chapter 11, we put forward Oxfam’s suggestions on action that is urgently needed to benefit the Third World poor.

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