KEI comments to DHHS on WHA agenda 17.4, the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development

Re: 17.4 Follow-up of the report of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination Document A68/34

My name is James Love, from Knowledge Ecology International. I wanted to discuss the negotiations on new approaches to funding medical R&D.

I will begin with the much delayed discussions about a WHO R&D treaty, which are supposed to resume in 2016.

We have suggestions for some changes in the discussion, to move things forward.

First, we think it will be useful to discuss an agreement on R&D funding, rather than a treaty.

Second, we think the targets of the R&D funding agreement should be expanded, to include more areas of interest to high income countries.

Third, with regard to any norms for pooled funding, we recommend a different approach, that allows donors, including the United States, to choose the manager of the pooled funding, as opposed to creating mandates to finance a Geneva based R&D fund created by the WHO.

Fourth, delegates have to examine the potential incentives to provide funding for R&D.

Among the incentives that might be considered would be to give donors who meet funding goals a vote, or a weighted vote, based upon a progressive scale, taking into account per capita income, and funding per resident.

Another incentive might be to limit the availability of funds to researchers located in countries that are providing funding

All of the incentives, including others that might be considered, involve some compromises, but they may be necessary to create models for multilateral funding of R&D.

Why is this important? Because at present, the only models we have for a global framework for funding R&D is to grant drug monopolies, and tolerate high prices on products, prices that create unequal access, and fiscal stress on health systems and business and household budgets.

Drug prices at high, and out of control. All efforts to curb high prices are resisted on the grounds that lower prices undermine R&D. If we don’t find new ways to support R&D, other than high prices, we are building systems of inequality, and rationing of access to new technologies.