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    The disabled consumer: how multinational corporations affect the Third World.

    Medawar C

    In: Shirley O, ed. A cry for health. Poverty and disability in the Third World. Frome, England, Third World Group for Disabled People, 1983. 73-8.

    Disability in developing countries is largely a social, political and economic disease, a symptom of underlying conditions of great injustice and inequality. The author asks to what extent do the multinational corporations (MNCs) sustain poverty and disability in developing countries. MNCs usually operate within environments where the emphasis in national development and growth is overwhelmingly on the security and prosperity of the relatively welathy minority. There is no international supervision over MNCs at all and control within the developing country tends to be weak since home governments have a vested interest in earning foreign exchange. Also, MNCs are extremely effective in making and marketing goods and in persuading people that these goods bring advantage to them. The multinational pharmaceutical industry represents concentrated capacity and wealth; just 10 companies control 25% of the world's total drug production while the top 110 companies control 90% of the total. By contrast, the average developing country represents concentrated incapacity and ill-health. There is distortion of national health priorities in many developing countries in that most of the drugs which are bought and sold are not essential. In addition, multinational drug companies usually observe lower standards in developing countries than elsewhere. An example is provided of the sale of Lomotil to control diarrhea in developing countries by G.D. Searle, a pharmaceutical manufacturer. Lomotil is an anti-diarrheal drug; it doesn't treat the condition that caused the diarrhea in the 1st place. It was found by the World Health Organization that this drug was not appropriate for the type of diarrhea found in developing countries, and a leaflet was produced by the US Food and Drug Administration to that effect.
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