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Indiana/Purdue University, Fort Wayne Campus . The Crisis as an Opportunity for Structural Change: Where should we focus our political energies? Thomas Pogge Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs, Yale University with additional affiliations at

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indiana purdue university fort wayne campus

Indiana/Purdue University, Fort Wayne Campus

The Crisis as an Opportunity for Structural Change: Where should we focus our political energies?

Thomas Pogge

Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs, Yale University

with additional affiliations at

the Australian Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE)

and the University of Oslo Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature (CSMN)


Hypothesis about Competitive/ Adversarial Systems

competitive adversarial systems
Competitive/Adversarial Systems

― e.g.: real economy, financial markets, politics and international relations, courts, academic research, media ― can be highly efficient when they are properly framed. Proper framing is achieved when the rewards players seek from the system are highly correlated with the creation of social value. Proper framing requires that the rules of the game are appropriately designed and that these rules are administered in a transparent and impartial way.


competitive adversarial systems4
Competitive/Adversarial Systems

… contain seeds of their own demise / deterioration insofar as they provide incentives to various reward-focused players to try to get ahead by affecting, in their own favor, either the rules or their impartial application. With such efforts, the rules and personnel organizing and constraining the competition become objects of the competition: “turf”.


competitive adversarial systems5
Competitive/Adversarial Systems

… can lose much of their effectiveness when such efforts to corrupt are lucrative: resources invested in corruption are lost to the system; and, insofar as such efforts succeed, they diminish the degree to which the functioning of the system tracks its social purpose.


competitive adversarial systems6
Competitive/Adversarial Systems

… can include rules forbidding and penalizing efforts to modify the rules or their application. But these protective rules and their application are themselves vulnerable to modification efforts. Example soccer: hidden and pretended fouls.


competitive adversarial systems7
Competitive/Adversarial Systems

can, so long as countervailing temptations are not too strong, help stabilize their own proper framing by – only by? – sustaining a moral attitude toward certain rules and penalties (which then become punishments). To be effective, this moral attitude must be ingrained in the culture and internalized by many of the players and esp. by most of those who play a role in formulating or applying central system rules.


such moralization has limited potential
Such Moralization has Limited Potential

The moral character of certain rules and penalties is a matter of degree (how many disapprove, and how severely?), and is itself vulnerable to corruption as players have self-interested incentives to seek demoralization or moralization of some prescriptions. The success of such efforts depends on how morality is understood and lived in the wider culture.


long term tendency
Long-term Tendency

Money is becoming the pre-eminent universal reward, penetrating also the academic world (through grants, endowments), media (advertising), politics and international negotiations (campaign contributions), public administration (revolving door), and religion. The judicial system is the best hold-out but dependent for its rules on legislatures.


systemic problem regulatory capture with inequality spiral
Systemic Problem: Regulatory Capture with Inequality Spiral

Often in concert, the richest players influence the rules and their application, thereby expanding their own advantage. Such run-away inequality strengthens, in each round, both the incentives and the opportunities for influence. Public facilities come under the influence of players with special and often near-term interests, who buy support from media and academics for this purpose (venality esp. of economists who live up to their homo oeconomicus paradigm). Special interests have been especially effective in influencing international agreements (WTO Treaty) and organizations (WIPO, World Bank).


specific examples of poverty aggravating global institutional arrangements

Specific Examples of Poverty-Aggravating Global Institutional Arrangements

Examples of how global institutional order works against HR fulfillment directly: rules of trade and finance (with asymmetrical protectionism); intellectual property rights in seeds and medicines; environmental degradation; “race to the bottom” in labor standards.

Examples of how global institutional order works against HR fulfillment indirectly, by incentivizing and sustaining HR-violating regimes and policies in poor countries: international resource, borrowing, treaty, arms privileges.

The facilitation of “dirty-money” flows is an example of both: draining poor countries of revenue through embezzlement and also fostering corruption and oppression in those countries (Raymond Baker: Capitalism’s Achilles Heel).

Global Institutional Order

4 Privileges

Dirty Money




systemic problem instability
Systemic Problem: Instability

Insofar as system rules and their application are privately purchased, the externalities for other players and the future are disregarded. Moreover, there is growing incoherence of the whole scheme of rules because its various components are shaped by different sets of players with diverse particular interests. Both phenomena exemplify the structure of “collective action problems” (PD): The strongest players are impelled, by their self-regarding interests, to seek influence in ways that are detrimental and dangerous even to themselves collectively (and even more so, of course, to weaker players). Even the strongest are worse off in the long run than they would be if they abandoned their competitive efforts to manipulate in their own favor the rules and their application (but who can they?).



Even the rich, if only they think a little more long-term, have an interest in the reduction of economic inequality, esp. at the top end. In the long run, they must expect more damage from the mani-pulation efforts of other strong players than gain from their own such efforts.



Intra-national and Global Inequality

rising inequality in the us
Rising Inequality in the US

In the last US economic expansion (2002-07), average per capita household income grew 16%.

In the top one percent this growth was 62%, in the remainder of the population 7%.

The top percentile captured 65% of the real per capita growth of the US economy (45% in the 1993-2000 Clinton expansion).

Saez “Updated”,, Table 1, from IRS Data


rising inequality in the us 1978 2007
Rising Inequality in the US (1978-2007)

The income share of the bottom half declined from 26.4% to 12.8% (2005). Meanwhile, that of the top one percent rose from 8.95% to 23.50% (2.6-fold); that of the top tenth percent from 2.65% to 12.28% (4.6-fold); and that of the top hundredth percent from 0.86% to 6.04% (7-fold; Saez Table A3). The top hundredth percent (30,000 people) now have nearly half as much income as the bottom half (150 million) of Americans – and BTW about two-thirds as much as the bottom half (3400 million) of world population.



Kuznets curve is the graphical representation of Simon Kuznets's theory ('Kuznets hypothesis') that economic inequality increases over time while a country is developing, then after a critical average income is attained, begins to decrease.

One theory as to why this happens states that in early stages of development, when investment in physical capital is the main mechanism of economic growth, inequality encourages growth by allocating resources towards those who save and invest the most. Whereas in mature economies human capital accrual, or an estimate of cost that has been incurred but not yet paid, takes the place of physical capital accrual as the main source of growth, and inequality slows growth by lowering education standards because poor people lack finance for their education in imperfect credit markets. Kuznets curve diagrams show an inverted U curve, although variables along the axes are often mixed and matched, with inequality or the Ginicoefficent on the Y axis and economic development, time or per capita incomes on the X axis. Wikipedia

rising income inequality in china
Rising Income Inequality in China

In China, 1990-2004, the income share of the bottom half declined from 27% to 18% ― while that of the top tenth rose from 25% to 35%.

global inequality
Global Inequality

At current exchange rates, the poorest half of world population: 3,400 million, have under 3%of global household income―as against 2% had by the most affluent 0.01% (30,000) in the US.The per capita income ratio between the top 5% and the bottom 40% is 200:1.

Spreadsheets from Branko Milanovic, World Bank

Saez “Tables and Figures Updated”,

At current exchange rates, the poorest half of the world’s population, some 3,400 million, have ca. 1%of global wealth ― as against 3% had by the world’s 1125 billionaires (2007!)., table 10A, p. 47

shares of global wealth 2000 poorest versus richest households
Shares of Global Wealth2000; poorest versus richest households

Calculated in market exchange rates so as to reflect avoidability of poverty. Decile Ineq. 2837:1. Quintile Ineq. 85:1. Year 2000, $125 trillion total. (, table 10A, p. 47)


the effects of world poverty
The Effects of World Poverty

Among ca. 6800 million human beings, about

1020 million are chronically undernourished (FAO 2009)

2000 million lack access to essential drugs (,

884 million lack safe drinking water (WHO/UNICEF 2008, 32),

924 million lack adequate shelter (UN Habitat 2003, p. vi),

1600 million have no electricity (UN Habitat, “Urban Energy”),

2500 million lack adequate sanitation (WHO/UNICEF 2008, p. 7),

774 million adults are illiterate (,

218 million children (aged 5 to 17) do wage work outside their household — often under slavery-like and hazardous conditions: as soldiers, prostitutes or domestic servants, or in agriculture, construction, textile or carpet production (ILO: The End of Child Labour, Within Reach,2006, pp. 9, 11, 17-18).


30 percent of all human deaths
30+ Percent of all Human Deaths

— some 18 (out of 57) million per year or 50,000 daily — are due to poverty-related causes, cheaply preventable through safe drinking water, better sanitation, more adequate nutrition, rehydration packs, vaccines or other medicines. In thousands:

diarrhea (1798) and malnutrition (485),

perinatal (2462) and maternal conditions (510),

childhood diseases (1124 — mainly measles),

tuberculosis (1566), meningitis (173), hepatitis (157),

malaria (1272) and other tropical diseases (129),

respiratory infections (3963 — mainly pneumonia),

HIV/AIDS (2777), sexually transmitted diseases (180)

WHO: World Health Report 2004, 120-22

we should focus our political efforts on a reform that
We Should Focus Our Political Efforts on a Reform that

― constitutes an enduring structural reform;

― effectively symbolizes the idea that all human lives are of equal value;

― benefits a strong, well-organized faction of the global elite (new profit opportunities and image improvement for pharma industry);

― is scalable and can be increased and/or adjusted as experience warrants;

― strengthens those with objective interest in reform (empowerment of the global poor);

― is exemplar of realistic moral leadership, genuine moralization, global public good.



The Pharmaceutical Innovation/Access Dilemma

rules governing the development and distribution of new medicines

Rules Governing the Development and Distribution of New Medicines

Under the TRIPS agreement – part of the WTO Treaty and a paradigm example of regulatory capture – the intellectual property regime of the affluent countries was globa-lized by being made a mandatory condition of WTO membership. Pharmaceutical innovators must be granted 20-year product patents in all WTO member states.

seven problems with trips pure

Seven Problems with TRIPS-Pure

1. Pharmaceutical innovation is neglecting diseases concentrated among the poor

Why are they being neglected?

2. High prices impeding access by poor people for the duration of the patent

Why are prices so high?

relevance of economic distribution
Relevance of Economic Distribution

1) Medicines for diseases concentrated among the poor are not lucrative targets for pharmaceutical R&D: innovator gets tiny mark-up or tiny sales volume.

2) Patented medicines for global diseases are priced to maximize profit (= mark-up multiplied by sales volume). For important medicines, optimal mark-up is high because of high economic inequality and low price elasticity among the affluent.


distribution of pharma research

Distribution of Pharma Research

Diseases accounting for 90% of the global disease burden receive only 10% of all medical research worldwide. Pneumonia, diarrhea, tuberculosis and malaria, which account for over 20% of the global burden of disease, receive less than 1% of all public and private funds devoted to health research. Of the 1556 new drugs approved between 1975 and 2004, only 18 were for tropical diseases and 3 for TB.

seven problems with trips pure33

Seven Problems with TRIPS-Pure

1. Neglected diseases (90/10 Problem)

2. High prices impeding access by the poor

3. Bias toward maintenance drugs

4. Patenting, litigation, deadweight losses

5. Cost-price differential  counterfeiting

6. Cost-price diff’l  excessive marketing

7. Last-mile problem, perverse incentives


The HIF: Funding Innovation without Obstructing Access by the Poor

the economics of drug development
The Economics of Drug Development

Estimates of average drug R&D costs range from $200 to $1300 million per product (plausible $800m)

About half of this cost relates to clinical trials (mainly phase 3).

Any solution must address the need to pay for these costs (including for unsuccessful products) and must create incentives for firms to invest in R&D including clinical trials.


the health impact fund hif
The Health Impact Fund (HIF)

Funded by willing governments at minimally $6 billion per annum (0.01% of GNI, if universal)

Promises to reward (upon registration) any new medicine on the basis of its global health impact

Registering a new medicine with the HIF is voluntary for the innovator, who need not give up any intellectual property rights

Registrant must agree to make the new medicine available wherever it is needed at the lowest feasible cost of manufacture and distribution, and to grant zero-priced licenses after reward period



$6 billion a year is about 0.01% of global income, not even 1% of current worldwide expenditures on pharmaceuticals.

Full incentive effects on potential innovators require long-term commitment by funders.

Only governments (of affluent and developing countries) can plausibly commit large sums long-term. We propose a small share of GNI, perhaps 0.03%, for each partner country.

All or most of this comes back to taxpayers through lower prices for medicines, insurance, national health systems, and foreign aid.


how to constrain the selling price
How to Constrain the Selling Price

Three design options:

The HIF sets a price ceiling equal to estimated average cost of production

The HIF requires open licensing of all relevant patents and data to create generic competition

The HIF requires the registrant to issue tenders for production; registrant controls distribution but must sell product at no more than cost of acquisition plus a supplement to cover distribution

Cost of production and distribution is to be minimized and registrant is not to profit from selling the drug, only from HIF-rewards. Incentive to lower price iff δQ(R+p–c) > Qδp


assessing health impact
Assessing Health Impact

Health impact would be assessed in QALYs through comparison to outcomes that could have been expected to occur given the state of technology two years before the drug was introduced, and excluding the firm’s own products.

Quality-Adjusted Life Years: All health states are rated on a 0-1 scale. 2 QALYs = two extra years in good (1.0) health = four extra years in poor (0.5) health = ten years in improved (+0.2) health.



Health impact will be assessed annually based on available information and inference

Assessment will rely on data from

Clinical trials

Pragmatic or practical trials

Audited data on sales aided by serial numbers and mobile phone technology

Stratified sampling of use of the product in different environments

Global burden of disease data


assessment cost
Assessment Cost

The assessments would be expensive to run, consuming probably about 10% of the fund payout, or $600 million per year. Judged to be feasible by experts (IHME)

But assessment of health impact is a priority in almost all countries already.

Clinical reasons

Budgetary reasons

Assessment costs are therefore partly balanced by collateral benefits.


hif resolves critical problems in prize determination
HIF Resolves Critical Problems in Prize Determination

Which health problems to target;

How to define the “finish line”;

How large to make the reward (self-adjusting).

The HIF is a market-based solution: payments are determined by competition among all registered products for the available rewards.

A drug for malaria can directly compete against a drug for HIV/AIDS.

This regulates relative rewards for registered products, rewarding each at the same rate per QALY, creating efficient incentives.


the last mile problem in drug delivery
The “Last Mile” Problem in Drug Delivery

Proper prescribing and compliance are essential to drug effectiveness.

The HIF pays on the basis of each medicine’s actual health impact as assessed not only through sales data, but also through sampling of actual use and benefits as well as through population health data

Firms therefore have incentives to promote appropriate use of their registered products, as well as to develop products that are effective in resource-poor settings.


problems solved

Problems Solved?

1. Diseases of the poor become profitable

2. Price = lowest feasible variable cost

3. No bias toward maintenance drugs

4. Patenting, litigation, deadweight losses

5. No cost-price differential: counterfeiting

6. No cost-price differential: marketing

7. Last-mile problem, wholesome incentives

allocation rules
Allocation Rules

“Because pharmaceutical companies negotiate under a virtual veil of ignorance with respect to as yet uninvented medicines, their collective interests will shape their negotiating strategy. They will want to design the allocation rules so as to maximize their collective harvest of rewards. In particular, they will want these rules to be clear and transparent so as to reduce uncertainty. They will want the incentives to be shaped so as to foster efficient collaboration and synergies among themselves. They will want to set up a cheap and reliable arbitration mechanism so as to avoid costly disputes.”


measurement reward
Measurement & Reward

Fixed term of payments, ca. 10 years

Fixed annual HIF pools

Metric: variant of QALY

The $/QALY “exchange rate” / Funding

Data: clinical, sales, clusters

Interfering factors: baseline projections


Allocation Rules

Corruption and Gaming