Bill Gates, the cofounder and chairman of the Microsoft, and cofounder and cochair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, recently spoke at the University of Chicago. A major focus of the Foundation, which is one of the largest in the world, is on international health and in particular on diseases striking people in the Third World that get scant attention from pharmaceutical companies.
He offered this insight into the skewed priorities of the pharmaceutical industry:
“Malaria kills 1 million people a year; baldness hasn’t killed anyone yet. Less than 10 percent of the money spent on curing baldness is spent on fighting malaria.”
Although, it’s worth noting that the Institute for One World Health, a nonprofit pharmaceutical company , just announced a partnership with Amyris Biotechnologies and sanofi aventis for the development of semisynthetic artemisinin, a key ingredient in first-line malaria treatments. The project has been ongoing since 2004, and was funded with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.