World Health Assembly (WHA 67) agrees to create pooled R&D fund, endorses delinkage of R&D costs from product prices

Today the World Health Assembly (WHA) reached consensus on a “decision”, WHA67(15), regarding the Consultative Expert Working Group (CEWG) on Research and Development. The final document gave the WHO Secretariat a mandate to create a new pooled funding mechanism for R&D that will be administered by TDR.* The choice of TDR to administer the fund raised red flags, expressed by KEI and others, because the current TDR mandate for research is focused on tropical diseases, which is narrow, and could be seen as further narrowing the ambitions of the CEWG R&D reforms. The WHA addressed this issue by including in the decision a statement “recognizing that the scope of the diseases should not be limited to type III diseases but should be in line with the GSPA-PHI mandate.” The decision further elaborated this point by saying the pooled funding mechanism would deal with “research and development for “type III and II diseases and the specific research and development needs of developing countries in relation to type I diseases.”**

The WHA decision also “requested the addition of an analysis of the extent of innovative components being implemented by the projects including financing, the use of open access models, multisectoral research platforms, and delinkage, among other criteria.”

The decision effectively creates a multilateral R&D funding mechanism that favors open access, and will implement delinkage of R&D costs from product prices.

Responding to the decision, KEI Director James Love said “today’s decision appears to be an important advance in the implementation of delinkage of R&D costs and product prices, creating a small but potentially important building block for global negotiations on R&D funding — a welcome change of paradigm from agreements focusing only on IPR and higher drug prices.”

Judit Rius of the MSF Access Campaign told KEI “This is a step forward. Countries are moving in the direction of more funding of R&D. I want to see how the demonstration projects implement delinkage. This decision should be followed by the more ambitious discussions in 2015 regarding norms for R&D funding and delinkage. I want countries to step up!”

Thiru Balasubramaniam, Managing Director of KEI Europe, said, “the inclusion of the specific needs of developing countries for Type 1 diseases is important, and delinkage is now becoming part of the DNA of the WHO discussions about R&D.”

What is TDR?
*Created in 1974, “TDR is the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, a global programme of scientific collaboration that helps facilitate, support and influence efforts to combat diseases of poverty. It is hosted at the World Health Organization (WHO), and is sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and WHO.”

** WHO definitions of Type 1-3 diseases:
Type I diseases*: are incident in both rich and poor countries, with large numbers of vulnerable populations in each.
Type II diseases*: are incident in both rich and poor countries, but with a substantial proportion of the cases in poor countries.
Type III diseases*: are those that are overwhelmingly or exclusively incident in developing countries.

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