[Ip-health] Launch of the Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines Policies

Andy Gray Graya1 at ukzn.ac.za
Fri Nov 7 05:43:39 PST 2014

Dear all

Last month a new Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines Policies was established with the goals of: (1) reconfirming the ongoing relevance and the crucial need of comprehensive essential medicines policies in achieving Universal Health Coverage as part of the new Sustainable Health Development goals, and (2) formulating recommendations for global essential medicine policies for the next two decades. The work of the Commission will result in a report in The Lancet planned for November 2015, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1985 Nairobi Conference on the Rational Use of Drugs. The report will discuss - among other topics - the evolution of essential medicines policies from being primarily focused on regulation, supply and prescribing, to being more comprehensive, including elements relating to financing, pricing, consumer demand, private markets, adherence, and the role of transparency.

The first, brain-storming meeting of the Commission was held at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands in October 2014. The Commission comprises 19 commissioners and is co-chaired by Hans Hogerzeil (University of Groningen, The Netherlands), Veronika Wirtz (Boston University, USA) and Andy Gray (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa).  An Editorial in The Lancet of Saturday 8 November features the launch of the Commission (copied as "fair use" below; http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)62017-1/fulltext), and highlights just some of the elements that will be covered in the report.

More information on the Commission can be found at the Commission's website http://www.bu.edu/lcemp

Get Involved

The Commission intends to involve the global public health community at large in its process. At several stages of its work the Commission will therefore post general and specific questions on its website, to which responses and suggestions will be actively invited. The posting of such questions will be announced through relevant electronic networks, such as E-DRUG and IP-HEALTH. The Commission also plans to consult with invited groups of stakeholders. Details on the process of moderating these consultations and the ways of acknowledging the contributions will be further developed and be posted on the website.

Hans Hogerzeil

Veronika Wirtz

Andy Gray



The Lancet, Volume 384, Issue 9955, Page 1642, 8 November 2014  doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)62017-1

Copyright (c) 2014 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.

A new Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines

The Lancet

Access to essential medicines globally is a highly charged political issue that is often about trade, policies, and protest. Essential medicines are crucial if countries are to achieve universal health coverage, and access will be a major goal for the post-2015 development era.

Today, the discussions need to include newer essential medicines, such as second-line and third-line antiretrovirals (ARVs), together with medicines for cancer, hepatitis C, and non-communicable diseases. In the future, decision makers-irrespective of their country's income-will face many common challenges related to essential medicines, including continuing antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 20 million people living with HIV; new fixed-dose combinations of ART; overcoming stigma to modern contraception and even to vaccination; improving and harmonising medicine regulations to ensure quality and safety; adapted formulations for neonates and children; and securing access to new drug discoveries.

Ensuring equitable and affordable access to medicines is not easy. Radical civil society action was required to force the pharmaceutical sector to provide life-saving ARVs to people living with HIV/AIDS. No other movement in global health has achieved such success. How do we create the same reality in other areas of global health?

The 2012 Access to Medicine Index (ATM), which ranks the performance of pharmaceutical companies, found several areas where all companies could improve substantially. These areas include being more transparent about their practices, expanding tiered pricing schemes, adapting packaging to local needs, making drug donations more needs-based, and facilitating the acceleration of the approval of generic medicines in developing countries. It will be interesting to see how companies have improved in these areas in the forthcoming 2014 ATM index, to be launched on Nov 17.

It is time to take stock of essential medicine's policies and to reaffirm access to essential medicines as part of the progressive fulfilment of the right to health. This Commission (http://www.bu.edu/lcemp) has the opportunity to raise global awareness of the relevance of essential medicine's policies to achieve broader global health and sustainable development goals, especially universal health coverage.

For the Access to Medicine Index see http://www.accesstomedicineindex.org/

Andy Gray BPharm MSc(Pharm) FPS FFIP
* Senior Lecturer
Division of Pharmacology
Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences
School of Health Sciences
* Consultant Pharmacist (Research Associate)
Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA)
University of KwaZulu-Natal
PBag 7 Congella 4013
South Africa
* Visiting Fellow, Faculty of Pharmacy, Rhodes University, Grahamstown
Tel: +27-31-2604298 Fax: +27-31-2604338
email: graya1 at ukzn.ac.za or andy at gray.za.net

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