Achieving a Dream: Meeting Policy Goals Related to Improving Drug Access

David Zakus*, 1, 2, 3, Jillian Clare Kohler4, Venera Zakriova1, 2, Aaron Yarmoshuk2, 5
1 Centre for International Health, Canada
2 Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Canada
3 Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada
4 Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, Canada
5 HIV/AIDS Africa Initiative, Centre for International Health, Canada

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© Zakus et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada; Tel: +1 416-978-1458; Fax: +1 416-946-7910; E-mail:


International experts recognize that significant inequities exist in the accessibility of life-saving medicines among poor and vulnerable populations, especially in developing countries. This article highlights that drug access even for relatively cheap medicines is out of reach for the vast numbers of global poor. This badly affects people living with HIV/AIDS who face serious obstacles in accessing ARVs. The same concerns are attributed to neglected diseases. Despite international meetings, promises from the pharmaceutical industry and a lot of media attention little has changed in the past 20 years. The accessibility gap to life-saving drugs could be reduced by the UNITAID initiative to pool patents for the many different ARVs, but the reality is that UNITAID is still a promise. To surmount this global problem of inequity requires a rethinking of traditional models of drug access and health objectives that should not be compromised by commercial interests.