Visiting Distinguished Professor Michelle Forzley presented a talk entitled “Governance and the Combat of Corruption in the Pharmaceutical Sector” to members of the faculty on Thursday March 14th, 2008. She holds an appointment as Associate Professor at the Howard University Medical School Department of Family and Community Medicine and has been serving as the Project Director for the International Public Health Legal Information Project, a joint effort of the U.S. National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health and Widener Law’s Health Law Institute. Professor Forzley received her M.P.H. from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and her J.D. from the New England School of Law.
Professor Forzley opened by saying, “Corruption is the single greatest obstacle to social and economic development,” in developing countries. She noted that in many such countries, corrupt government practices can keep medicine out of the hands of people that need them. She also emphasized that corruption can take many forms including bribery, fraud, favoritism, collusion, embezzlement, or even simple failures in the procedures of the pharmaceutical system. The World Health Organization developed an assessment tool called ACT, short for assess, consult, and train, to help its consultants evaluate problems in developing countries.
After providing an overview of the problems and potential solutions, Professor Forzley talked about her own experiences in Albania, where she did an analysis for the country’s Ministry of Health. She enumerated Albania’s problems with regard to providing medicine, including the lack of a national formulary, and then discussed some of the solutions that she had recommended in her report. At the conclusion of the presentation, Professor Forzley cited the need for education, awareness, and criminal prosecution of corrupt officials as necessary steps before offering up her theory that countries in transition with incomplete or unsuccessfully communicated social contracts must advanced the rule of law as it applies to the health sector.