PAHO 29th Pan-American Sanitary Conference: Statement of Knowledge Ecology International on Draft Concept Note

On Wednesday September 27, 2017, Knowledge Ecology International delivered an intervention at the PAHO 29th Pan-American Sanitary Conference during agenda item 8.10 on the Draft Concept Note towards WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work 2019–2023. I delivered the statement on behalf of KEI.

Mr. President:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today. Knowledge Ecology International welcomes the spirit of change embodied in the Draft Concept Note, but finds it lacking in specificity and avoidant of an explicit recognition of the crisis of high prices for medical technologies, and of the threat that the policy incoherence recognized in the the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Access to Medicines places on the ability to actualize universal health coverage.

We take the objective of access to medicine for all seriously, and we do not believe this is possible unless there is a change in the business model for funding the R&D for new drugs.

So long as governments rely upon the grant of a monopoly to induce investments in R&D, there will be monopolies on new drugs and the high prices that come with monopolies.

We would like to see policy makers and organizations like the WHO and PAHO consider the practical measures needed to change the business model, and delink R&D financing incentives from high prices and monopolies. The first step is to undertake studies of the feasibility of introducing delinkage, perhaps for specific diseases.

The WHO has a variety of existing commitments under which to move forward on these issues, for example, important resolutions such as the CEWG, the GSPOA, and the cancer resolution passed during the most recent World Health Assembly (WHA 70.12).

We appreciate that the Draft Concept Note acknowledges the important role that the WHO must play in coordinating collective action, and second the comments of India at the 70th SEARO regional committee meeting in calling for the WHO to lead negotiations on a global R&D agreement, which could provide global norms for funding R&D as a public good.