EB142: KEI statement on Addressing the global shortage of, and access to, medicines and vaccines

On Wednesday, 24 January 2018, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Executive Board is expected to discuss agenda item 3.6 on Addressing the global shortage of, and access to, medicines  and vaccines. Non-state actors in official relations with the WHO are permitted to make statements; these statements are capped at 300 words.

KEI’s statement on Addressing the global shortage of, and access to, medicines  and vaccines is contained below.

3.6 Addressing the global shortage of, and access to, medicines and vaccines

Knowledge Ecology International welcomes the report on addressing the global shortage of, and access to, medicines and vaccines. In particular, we appreciate the Secretariat’s mapping of all the recommendations of the UN High-Level Panel Report on Access to Medicines.

The efforts to use TRIPS flexibilities, such as compulsory licensing of patents, can play an important role in expanding access to drugs, but there remains the conflicts between innovation incentives, on the one hand, and affordability and access on the other.

The UNHLP was asked to address the incoherence of policies that pit access and innovation against each other.

The WHO should take this conversation forward, and begin the work of designing and evaluating the feasibility of delinking the incentives to invest in R&D from high prices. A preliminary step is to consider the terms of reference for such analysis.

Examples of areas where delinkage feasibilities studies could be considered include – cancer, HIV/AIDS, rare diseases or AMR. In each case, the studies should compare the current incentives, which are based upon the grant of temporary monopolies, to delinkage mechanisms that feature significant R&D subsidies and large, robust market entry rewards or prize funds, with a view to replace, eventually, monopolies and high prices. This is the only policy intervention that can achieve universal access to new medicines.

Thiru

Thiru Balasubramaniam is the Geneva Representative of Knowledge Ecology International. Prior to his post as KEI’s Geneva Representative, Mr. Balasubramaniam worked at Health Action International in Colombo and at the World Health Organization in Geneva as a technical officer in the Department of Essential Drugs and Medicines Policy dealing with access to medicines and intellectual property. He began his career with CPTech working on issues related to health care and intellectual property. Mr. Balasubramaniam holds a B.A. in Economics and a Minor in European History from the University of Pennsylvania.