Several Developed Countries Want To “Derail” Transparency Resolution – Civil Society Groups Say

More than 100 civil society organisations and health experts signed on to an open letter yesterday calling out Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the UK and Australia, along with Austria and the United States, as wanting to “derail” and “weaken” the transparency resolution on drug prices and R&D costs.

These countries, along with Spain, Hungary, Poland and Brazil, proposed changes to the draft resolution at this week’s informal consultation of member states at the World Health Organization in Geneva, in the lead-up to the 72nd annual World Health Assembly (WHA) from 20-28 May, where the resolution will be discussed.

The open letter, published yesterday, followed the first day of the informal consultation on 7 May, when the changes to the draft resolution were made. The second day of the informal consultation is taking place today, at which the draft resolution, which will be presented at the WHA, will be finalised.

Leading NGOs on this issue – Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders), Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), and Health Action International (HAI) – told Health Policy Watch that based on Wednesday’s changes to the draft resolution, a North-South divide between member states is emerging.

A comparison of the differences between the 29 April and 7 May transparency resolution drafts is available here.

Els Torreele, Executive Director of MSF Access Campaign, commenting on the changes to the draft transparency resolution, said:

“It is very disconcerting to learn that Germany, the UK, Sweden, Denmark and five other OECD countries are attempting to derail this important effort to create transparency in medicines pricing and medical research and development. This threatens a much-needed effort that would bring prices down and increase people’s access. Exorbitant and arbitrary drug prices are a major problem affecting all countries. They keep essential lifesaving medicines from those who urgently need them and put undue strain on already overstretched health systems.”

“It seems contradictory that the very governments that espouse the importance of transparency in almost every other sector are in this case standing against the tide.”

“These governments should stop favouring pharmaceutical corporations’ profit maximisation agenda and instead ensure the right to affordable medicines and treatment for their people. We urge all country negotiators to cease all attempts to dilute the resolution and instead work together to ensure that people worldwide can access the medical tools they need to stay alive and healthy, at prices they can afford.”

The open letter signed by more than 100 civil society organisations and health experts, posted by Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), is included below:

Civil Society Open Letter to World Health Assembly Delegates

We are appalled at the proposals by several countries at the May 7, 2019 informal on the World Health Assembly (WHA) transparency resolution. In the April 29, 2019 version, the resolution was focused on transparency, and provided concrete measures to achieve the most useful and practical outcomes.

The 61 brackets to the text, plus other proposed changes, would make this resolution confusing, weak and practically useless in many areas.

It seems clear that several countries, including in particular, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the UK and Australia want to derail the transparency initiative, and that Austria and the United States want to weaken key parts.

We urge other WHA Member States to participate in the May 10, 2019 informal, and to stand up for a resolution that will be effective in empowering governments and the public to have greater transparency and more equal access to information, in order to have greater power in dealing with the crisis in the pricing of medical technologies.

Organizations (in alphabetical order)

  1. Acceso Justo al Medicamento (AAJM), (Spain)
  2. Acción Internacional para la Salud – Perú
  3. Action against AIDS Germany
  4. AIDES (France)
  5. AIDS Access Foundation (Thailand)
  6. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)
  7. Alianza LAC – Global
  8. All India Drug Action Network
  9. American Medical Student Association (AMSA)
  10. ARAS – The Romanian Association Against AIDS
  11. Ärzte der Welt e.V./ Médecins du Monde Germany
  12. Associação Brasileira Interdisciplinar de AIDS (ABIA) (Brazil)
  13. Brot für die Welt, Bread for the World (Germany)
  14. BUKO Pharma-Kampagne (Germany)
  15. Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
  16. Cancer Alliance, South Africa
  17. Cáritas Latinoamérica y el Caribe
  18. Centre for Health Science and Law (CHSL)
  19. Citizens’ Health Initiative (Malaysia)
  20. Colombian Council of Bishops
  21. Committee of Oversight and Cooperation in Health (Colombia)
  22. Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) (Malaysia)
  23. Corporación Innovarte (Chile)
  24. Doctors for America
  25. EKPIZO (Consumer Association the Quality of Life) (Greece)
  26. Empower India
  27. End AIDS Now
  28. Essential Inventions
  29. European Alliance for Responsible R&D and Affordable Medicines
  30. European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)
  31. Fundación IFARMA (Colombia)
  32. GAT- Grupo de Ativistas em Tratamentos (Portugal)
  33. Global Health Advocates
  34. Global Justice Now (UK)
  35. Health Action International (HAI)
  36. Health Action International Asia-Pacific (HAIAP)
  37. Health and Trade Network (HaT)
  38. Health Global Action Project (Health GAP)
  39. Health Innovation in Practice (HIP)
  40. Heart to Heart Foundation, Thailand
  41. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
  42. Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
  43. Just Treatment (UK)
  44. KEI Europe (Switzerland)
  45. Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
  46. Korean Pharmacists for Democratic Society (KPDS)
  47. LWC Health
  48. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Access Campaign
  49. MEZIS (Germany)
  50. Misión Salud (Colombia)
  51. ONG Políticas Farmacéuticas (Chile)
  52. People’s Health Institute (PHI) (South Korea)
  53. People’s Health Movement (PHM)
  54. Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+)
  55. Prescrire (France)
  56. Public Eye (Switzerland)
  57. Salud por Derecho (Spain)
  58. Salud y Farmacos (USA)
  59. Section 27 (South Africa)
  60. Stichting Farma ter Verantwoording (Pharmaceutical Accountability Foundation) (The Netherlands)
  62. T1International
  63. The Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (Thailand)
  64. Third World Network (TWN)
  65. Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) (South Africa)
  66. Treatment Action Group (TAG)
  67. Union for Affordable Cancer Treatment (UACT)
  68. Universidades Aliadas por Medicamentos Essenciais (UAEM Brasil)
  69. Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)
  70. Wemos (The Netherlands)
  71. Yale Global Health Justice Partnership
  72. Yolse (Switzerland)
  73. Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network (YP-CDN)

Individuals (in alphabetical order)

  1. Aidan Hollis. Professor of Economics, University of Calgary.
  2. Amy Kapczynski, Professor of Law, Yale Law School.
  3. Anthony Robbins, MD, MPA, Professor, Tufts University, School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA, Co-Editor, Journal of Public Health Policy.
  4. Benjamin Mason Meier, JD, LLM, PhD, Associate Professor of Global Health Policy, Zachary Taylor Smith Distinguished Professor of Public Policy, Department of Public Policy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  5. Beverley F Snell, Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), Coordinator – Health Action International Asia Pacific.
  6. Brian Citro. Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.
  7. Brook K. Baker, Professor at Law, Northeastern University School of Law
  8. Dinesh Abrol, National Working Group on Patent Laws, India.
  9. Dr. Ellen ‘t Hoen, Medicines Law & Policy.
  10. Dr. Jennifer Sellin, Assistant Professor of International & European Law, Maastricht Centre for Human Rights, Maastricht University, and Visiting Professor Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto.
  11. Dr. Katrina Perehudoff, post doctoral researcher, University of Toronto & Ghent University.
  12. Dr. Krisantha Weerasuriya, Independent Consultant, WHO Retiree and Former Secretary of the Expert Committee on Selection and Use of Essential Medicines.
  13. Dr. Mogha Kamal-Yanni, Public health and access to medicines consultant, United Kingdom.
  14. Dr. Rafael J. Pérez Miranda, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana – México.
  15. Fifa Rahman, Board Member Unitaid NGO Delegation and PhD Candidate (International Trade and Intellectual Property), University of Leeds.
  16. Gilberto de Lima Lopes Junior, MD, MBA, FAMS. Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Medical Director for International Programs, Associate Director for Global Oncology, Co-Leader, Lung Cancer Site Disease Group, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami and the Miller School of Medicine.
  17. Graham Dutfield, Professor of International Governance, School of Law, University of Leeds.
  18. Gregg Gonsalves, Assistant Professor, Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health.
  19. Joel Lexchin, MD. Member Emeriti-School of Health Policy & Management, Faculty of Health, York University.
  20. John Wilbanks, Open Source advocate – United States of America.
  21. Jordan Jarvis. London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
  22. Lawrence Gostin, University Professor, Georgetown University, Washington, DC
  23. Marcus Low, Spotlight, South Africa.
  24. Margo A. Bagley, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law, Emory University School of Law, Faculty
    Fellow, Emory Global Health Initiative, Senior Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), Collaborator, Harvard University Global Access in Action (GAiA) Program.
  25. Marie-Paule Kieny, PhD. Director of Research, Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM), Chair, Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative Board of Directors.
  26. Melissa Barber. PhD student, Harvard University.
  27. Meri Koivusalo, Prof Global Health and Development, Tampere University, Finland.
  28. Michael H. Davis, Professor, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
  29. Mohan Rao, Former professor, Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, JNU, New Delhi, India.
  30. Ophira Ginsburg, MD. Associate Professor, Department of Population Health, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Director Perlmutter Cancer Center High-Risk Cancer Genetics Program, New York University.
  31. Oscar Lizarazo, Associate Professor, Universidad Nacional Colombia.
  32. Peter S. Arno, PhD, Senior Fellow and Director, Health Policy Research, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Amherst, MA.
  33. Phyllis Freeman, JD, Professor Emerita, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA, USA, Co-Editor, Journal of Public Health Policy.
  34. Prof. Dr. H.D. Banta, former director of the Health Program US Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and former Deputy Director of the Pan American Health Organization.
  35. Prof Dr Hans V Hogerzeil, MD, PhD, FRCP, Co-Chair, Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines Policies, Formerly: Director for Essential Medicines and Pharmaceutical Policies, WHO, Geneva.
  36. Radha Holla Bhar (India).
  37. Reshma Ramachandran, MD, Family Medicine Physician.
  38. Rohit Malpani, Alternate Board Member, Unitaid NGO Delegation.
  39. Salomé Meyer, Cancer Alliance (South Africa).
  40. Shirin Syed, IP Researcher, North Maharashtra University (NMU), Maharashtra,India.
  41. Sol Terlizzi, Academic Coordinator, Master in Intellectual Property, FLACSO Argentina.
  42. Suerie Moon, MPA, PhD. Director of Research at the Global Health Centre, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva and Adjunct Lecturer on Global Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
  43. Thomas Schwarz, Executive Secretary, Medicus Mundi International.
  44. Uma Suthersanen, Advocate and Solicitor to the Supreme Court of Singapore and Professor of International Intellectual Property Law, Queen Mary, University of London.
  45. Wilbert Bannenberg, Public Health Consultant, The Netherlands.

Image Credits: CDDEP.

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