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Commercial influence and global nongovernmental public action in health and pharmaceutical policies

Koivusalo, M.   Mackintosh, M

International Journal of Health   41 (3) 539-563

September 2011

Nongovernmental public action has been effective in influencing global agenda-setting in health and pharmaceutical policies, yet its record in influencing solutions to the problems identified has been notably more limited. While trade policies have been particularly resistant to change, more substantial changes are observable in global health policies and global health governance. However, some of the directions of change may not be conducive to the democratic accountability of global health governance, to the wise use of public resources, to health systems development, or to longer-term access to health care within developing countries. The authors argue that observed changes in global health policies can be understood as accommodating to corporate concerns and priorities. Furthermore, the changing global context and the commercialization of global public action itself pose sharp challenges to the exercise of influence by global nongovernmental public actors. Nongovernmental organizations not only face a major challenge in terms of the imbalance in power and resources between themselves and corporate interest groups when seeking to influence policymaking; they also face the problem of corporate influence on public action itself.