WHA 70: Statement of Knowledge Ecology International – Third High-Level Meeting of the GA on NCDs

On Tuesday, 30 May 2017, Knowledge Ecology International delivered the following intervention on Preparation for the third High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, to be held in 2018. The statement was delivered by Thiru Balasubramaniam.


Agenda Item: 15.1 Preparation for the third High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases, to be held in 2018


In the Secretariat document A70/27, the extensive list of main obstacles to national action on NCDs does not describe or address the challenges of controlling or avoiding the high prices of medicines for noncommunicable diseases such as cancer or rare diseases.

The technical annex “Menu of policy options” does include an item entitled,

“Improve the availability of the affordable basic technologies and essential medicines, including generics, required to treat major noncommunicable diseases, in both public and private facilities.”

This should be rephrased as “take steps to ensure basic and essential medicines are affordable.”

The WHO tools to deal with affordability need to be expanded, to include such measures as:

1. Monitoring drug prices, revenues and R&D costs at the WHO R&D Observatory.
2. The WHO work on fair pricing norms.
3. Mechanisms to expand access to the know-how, knowledge, cell lines, and technology needed to make affordable biologic drugs.
4. WHO prequalification of generic alternatives, including bio-similar drugs and vaccines. On this point, we welcome WHO’s pilot programme on cancer biosimilars (rituximab and trastuzumab).
5. New ways of delinking R&D costs from drug prices, including a feasibility study of the a Cancer Innovation Fund featuring delinkage of R&D financing from drug prices.
6. Other mechanisms for the progressive delinkage of R&D incentives from drug prices.