Speaker: Baher Mohamed
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) welcomes increased attention from WHO and Member States to the many challenges related to access and medical innovation that hinder MSF’s ability to provide lifesaving medical care. Comprehensive, global cooperation on research and development (R&D) reform is long overdue, and bold action is needed from WHO and Member States to address the failures of current approaches to medical innovation.
Achieving universal health coverage requires access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines and this should be a key aspect of the new General Programme of Work 2019-2023. Access policies should consider not only access to existing products, but also needs-driven R&D for new products.
The WHO, in its normative role, should not only facilitate, but lead the development of principles that govern the priority setting, conduct and finance of biomedical R&D, which should build on principles and strategies already approved as part of the Global Strategy and Plan of Action (GSPOA) on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property.
Building on the success of WHO-led initiatives such as the Vaccine Product Price and Procurement (V3P) initiative and International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, MSF urges the WHO to continue working to increase transparency of all aspects of biomedical R&D, including the component costs of R&D and manufacturing, and the final purchase prices of products.
Without international cooperation and action in R&D, we may never have tools to respond to future outbreaks of Ebola and other infectious diseases, or alternatives to lengthy, toxic treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis. Products developed with public funds – such as new vaccines for Ebola and Zika virus – will remain priced out of reach for national health systems and people who need them. The WHO and Member States must embrace new approaches to R&D that end our reliance on high prices to finance innovation.
Finally, future WHO strategies to promote innovation and access should ensure coherence across WHO initiatives, and support and build upon the GSPOA, Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination, and UN High-level Panel on Access to Medicines.