Commentary & Opinion

Drug Theft Will Continue Until Incentives Are in Place to Ensure Drugs Reach Patients

March 4, 2011

In an article reflecting on the theft and diversion of medicines provided by aid agencies to developing countries, Roger Bate, Legatum Fellow in Global Prosperity at AEI, writes, "Given the rhetoric of donors and recipients" in response to the reports of drug thefts, "one would expect such profiteering to be sharply curtailed." However, Bate says there is "a lack of incentives driving agencies to actively address the problem. ... Donors, drug companies, recipient finance and health departments, even some clinicians, all benefit from the current system, even though the drugs are stolen, because international health aid programmes have rarely monitored outcomes," he writes. "Until the incentive structures are adjusted so that remuneration is based on whether patients with malaria receive anti-malarial drugs, rather than whether the drugs are provided to a national store, then theft will continue" (3/3).

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