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About European Parliament Working Group

The Working Group will operate as a Bureau of MEPs, with one Chair Glenis Willmott (S&D, UK), and two co-chairs Judith Sargentini (Greens, Netherlands) and Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea (ALDE, Spain), and a Secretariat, formed by Médecins Sans Frontières’ Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines and Global Health Advocates.

The Working Group is open to MEPs, academics, representatives from the European Commission, international organisations and civil society.

To join us or for further information please contact ep-accessgroup@msf.org

 

Objectives

  • Provide a forum for innovation, access to medicines and health issues related to HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and other neglected diseases
  • Create a focal point for MEPs and policy officials where civil society can act as a source of information sharing field and policy experience
  • Better integrate the EU response on HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria and health-related issues
  • Raise the profile of poverty-related diseases amongst EU policy makers and third parties
Policy Areas
Access to Medicines
The World Trade Organization's Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement sets the standards on intellectual property protection in the world today.  Patent protection has increased in key generic producing countries, pushing up the prices of medicines by blocking competition To ensure access to medicines through a competitive supply of drugs, countries will rely on so-called TRIPS flexibilities, such as compulsory licensing, and must promote alternative mechanisms such as patent pools.
Innovation
Without better diagnostics and medicines, we cannot hope to stem the tide against tuberculosis or the most neglected diseases like Chagas, sleeping sickness, and kala azar.   To boost medical innovation that responds to patients’ needs, innovative finance mechanisms must be explored and promoted. The EU has a major role to play in determining research priorities and financing neglected areas and in promoting alternative mechanisms to stimulate R&D, as agreed by the World Health Organization (WHO) Member States through the WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property.
Priority of Access to Treatment and Innovation
The treatment timebomb: the price of newer antiretrovirals is set to skyrocket
Lifelong AIDS treatment requires constant access to newer and more potent regimens when patients develop side effects or resistance to their medicines over time.  First-line regimens now cost as little as $80 per year, down from over $12,000 ten years ago.  But changing from a first-line regimen to second- or third-line treatments recommended by WHO involves a considerable price hike.  The most affordable second-line regimen is more than 2.8 times the cheapest first-line, and the price of potential third-line regimens could be as much as 15 times that amount.  Treatment provides once again face the prospect of drugs being priced out of reach.
Diseases of the poor remain neglected
Research and development is not currently geared towards the needs of people in poor countries, as drugs and diagnostic tools are developed on the basis of their future market potential rather than potential therapeutic impact. Only 1% of the drugs that have come to the market in the last 30 years were developed for tropical diseases or tuberculosis, although these account for around 12% of the disease burden.  At the same time, existing drugs for these diseases are often toxic and are becoming less and less effective due to resistance.  Areas of particular neglect include paediatric AIDS – with seven of the 22 antiretrovirals approved for adults not existing in paediatric formulations - or multidrug-resistant TB –which requires an arduous treatment, heavy in side effects, that can last up to two years. Without better diagnostics and medicines, we cannot hope to stem the tide against tuberculosis, or the most neglected diseases like Chagas, sleeping sickness, and kala azar.
Progress under threat
Unprecedented efforts have given four million people living with HIV/AIDS access to treatment, but 10 million more have been left behind.  Barely four years after world leaders met at the 2006 United Nations General Assembly and committed to universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care, political and funding support is evaporating. Stagnating or shrinking donor contributions for AIDS treatment  risk jeopardizing past success. The World Health Organization predicts that none of the health-related Millennium Development Goals that the international community had set itself will be met by 2015. 
To join us or for further information please contact: ep-accessgroup@msf.org
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