Health Policy Watch Makes Latest Text Of WHO Transparency Resolution Open Access

Health Policy Watch is publishing in an open-access format the latest draft of the World Health Assembly resolution on transparency of drug costs. The new draft, now available to all, reflects changes from the 10 May closed-door informal negotiations at the WHO, and shows progress toward compromise among member states.

The 10 May version of the draft resolution is available here.

Health Policy Watch is an independent, Geneva-based news agency publishing the latest news, analysis and opinions on global health policy in an open-access format.

The resolution, which is expected to come up under World Health Assembly (WHA) provisional agenda item 11.7, shows significant negotiating is yet to come. The text shows brackets around language that is proposed and not yet under agreement, and also shows which countries made each proposal.

The draft resolution originated with Italy at the January Executive Board meeting and is jointly proposed by Italy, Greece, Malaysia, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey and Uganda. The original proposal focused on making research and development costs, and clinical trials more transparent in order to address access and high prices that are affecting rich and poor countries alike.

One theme that seems to be emerging is to place whatever measures are resolved by the WHA into each country’s national context and make many item voluntary. Another is to add language to emphasize, or not undermine, the concept that innovation is crucial for new medicines. In addition there are efforts to increase the emphasis on generic medicines, and there are a variety of proposals aimed at setting up future activities such as measures for information-sharing, or to enhance transparency of markets for drugs and vaccines, collaboration on R&D, and increasing awareness of patenting databases. Others include a feasibility study, creation of a forum of experts or of a biennial forum on transparency of markets, and further promoting the WHO-led Fair Pricing Forum that has provided a venue for discussion of these issues over the past two years. It also contains a proposal to report back on measures to the WHO Executive Board in January 2020.

Italy and South Korea, with a variety of other countries cosponsoring, will host an event on this issue on 20 May, the first day of the 20-28 May World Health Assembly. The event is entitled, Access to Medicines, Vaccines and Health Products: A multi-dimensional approach for ensuring transparency of markets, affordable and quality medicines to achieve Universal Health Coverage. Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant Director General for Medicines and Health Products, will moderate the panel, with ministers from South Korea, Italy, and Indonesia, and possibly WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

According to NGO Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), the countries making the most proposed changes from the 7 May version to the 10 May version were the United States, Germany, and Brazil.

“The Friday negotiations were more constructive than the first informal on Tuesday,” James Love, president of KEI, told Health Policy Watch. “That said, there were such wide divergences in terms of what countries want, and don’t want, that the sponsors, ten countries that actually want more transparency, will have to come back and provide a new revised proposal that will include I’m sure some compromises and nuances, and will still require negotiations at the WHA. Germany, France and the UK are probably the biggest obstacles to progress on transparency, but not the only one. Overall, this is a tough negotiation, particularly given how aggressive is the pharmaceutical industry in trying to block transparency measures. Transparency of R&D costs will be the biggest challenge.”


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