[Ip-health] MSF: US and EU Derailing Ten-year Process to Create Health Research & Development Convention

Katy Athersuch katy.athersuch at googlemail.com
Thu May 24 22:11:15 PDT 2012

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF): US and EU Derailing Ten-year Process
to Create Health Research & Development Convention

Geneva/New York 24 May 2012— The US and European Union delegations to
the World Health Assembly are currently blocking efforts to move
towards a binding convention on health R&D aimed at filling critical
medical gaps for people in developing countries. The international
medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urged
the US and European governments, who are leading the developed country
effort, to stop obstructing a process that has been ten years in the
making and has broad support from developing countries.  MSF called on
developing countries to continue efforts to progress towards a

Such a convention would require all governments to contribute
financially to support R&D in key priority areas and would crucially
separate—or de-link—the cost of R&D from the price of medical
products, so that these are made affordable.

“Our medical staff know what it means to be in front a sick patient
and not have the medicines or tools to treat them because they’re too
expensive or they just don’t exist,” said Dr. Tido von Schoen-Angerer,
Executive Director of MSF’s Access Campaign. “People in developing
countries have waited too long for there to be a global response to
their health needs—we can’t afford to stand by and watch a handful of
developed countries derail this effort.”

A binding global R&D convention was one of the key recommendations of
a landmark expert report issued in April by the World Health
Organization that examined the critical gaps in health R&D in
developing countries. Discussions among governments this week have
revealed there is broad support to move toward a convention,
especially among developing countries such as key emerging economies
that are ready to take on a bigger role in health R&D.

“We are especially surprised to see the US taking such a hardline
position, since they already meet the level of financial contributions
to medical R&D suggested in the expert report,” said Michelle Childs,
Director of Policy and Advocacy at MSF’s Access Campaign.  “It’s high
time that all countries move towards a sustainable solution to fix the
market failure of the current R&D model and meet the needs of the
majority of people on the planet.  Developed countries must stop
blocking progress.”

“US counter-proposals to stimulate R&D, such as advance market
commitments, orphan drug legislation, or priority review vouchers have
been explicitly mentioned by the WHO expert report as not adequately
meeting the needs of developing countries,” said Judit Rius, Manager
of the MSF Access Campaign in the US.

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