[Ip-health] UACT statement on the final report of the UN Secretary-General High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines

Manon Ress manon.ress at cancerunion.org
Thu Sep 22 09:43:05 PDT 2016

http://cancerunion.org/  <https://t.co/hFg0M7Zbn6>

September 21, 2015

Union for Affordable Cancer Treatment Statement Regarding the United
Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines

On September 14, 2016, the Union for Affordable Cancer Treatment (UACT)
welcomed the release of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level
Panel on Access to Medicines. The Report is available here:

The mandate of the Panel was to “review and assess proposals and recommend
solutions for remedying the policy incoherence between the justifiable
rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules and public
health in the context of health technologies.”

UACT found that the Report provided an excellent analysis, and reasons for
optimism, as well as addressed some of the concerns of cancer patients and
their families all over the world. While acknowledging the great progress
in health technology innovation and access over the last decades and the
possibilities to improve the lives of millions of people affected by
cancer, the Panel also recognized the unsustainability of the increasing
cost of treatment and its impact on nations and on individuals.

Over the last few decades, medical innovation has dramatically improved the
lives of millions of people across the globe. Vaccines have significantly
reduced the prevalence of diseases, ranging from polio to human
papillomavirus. Antiretroviral medicines have greatly improved the lives of
people living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Personalized
strategies based on molecularly-targeted medicines are likely to become
central to cancer treatment in the future. Despite this noteworthy
progress, millions of people continue to suffer and die from treatable
conditions because of a lack of access to health technologies. (Report p.7)

However, the Panel stated that:

[...]these life-saving treatments, while under patent protection, can be
financially unsustainable, particularly when the costs have to be borne by
the patients themselves. Even in countries with public and/or private
healthcare systems, patients are frequently saddled with unmanageable
out-of-pocket expenses.85 In the United States, prices of cancer medicines
have almost doubled from a decade ago, averaging from US$ 5,000-10,000 per
month. Of the 12 medicines approved by the United States Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) for various cancer indications in 2012, 11 were priced
above US$ 100,000 per year.86 In rich and poor countries with public health
systems, government expenditures on health technologies is a significant
proportion of overall government and health department expenditure,
diverting resources away from other essential health services.87 (Report

A footnote spells it out clearly:

#37 Treatment costs for cancer, for instance, exceed personal incomes in
many countries. In the US costs are projected to grow 27% from 2010 to
2020, to at least US$ 158 billion. See Mariotto, A.B., et al. (2011)
Projections of the cost of cancer care in the United States: 2010-2020.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 103(2), pp. 117-128. (Report p.39)

In its 69 page report, among many major issues, such as Health Technology
Innovation and Access; Intellectual Property Laws and Access to Health
Technologies; New Incentives for Research and Development of Health
Technologies; and Governance, Accountability and Transparency, the Panel
addressed a topic that echos UACT’s fundamental concern: cost as a barrier
to access to treatment and its impact on national health and treatment
programs as well as on patients and their families. In addition, while
cancer patients are concerned about costs they are also extremely impacted
by the pace of innovation. Thus, UACT is supportive of discussions
regarding ways to incentivize more research and development without
increasing barriers to access. UACT is pleased by the Panel’s broad
description of the implementation of delinkage mechanisms and priority
setting and coordination for and financing of research and development.

UACT is pleased to highlight that the Panel recommends member countries of
the UN and other international organizations examine mechanisms such as
delinkage, supporting the goal that R&D costs must not impact access by
determining the price of new and potentially life-saving medicines.

UACT notes the crisis in access to affordable cancer drugs has become more
desperate now that India is granting and enforcing patents on new cancer
drugs, and this has cut off an important source  of affordable cancer drugs
for patients everywhere.

UACT welcomes the HLP opposition to TRIPS plus obligations in international
agreements, and sees such obligations as presenting risks to patients in
terms of access to medicine.  Government implementing the HLP
recommendations should consider a variety of access promoting reforms in
patent laws and judicial practices, including to introduce liability rule
regimes or guidelines that enable competition in return for affordable and
reasonable compensation to patent holders, and legal mechanisms to empower
patients to initiate challenges to patents or to request compulsory
licenses, or the use of other exceptions to patent rights.

UACT urges the UN SG to act to take the 30 recommendations forward. UACT
will continue to closely monitor the follow up of the report and we hope
that soon there will be be concrete actions undertaken to move forward the

Finally, UACT would like to thank the eminent panelists listed below for
their expertise and their personal contributions and commentaries that can
be found in the Annex 1 of the Report: Festus Mogae, co-chair, former
President of Botswana; Ruth Dreifuss, co-chair, former President of
Switzerland;Awn Al-Khasawneh, former Prime Minister of Jordan; Celso
Amorim, former Minister of Foreign Relations of Brazil Jorge Bermudez,
former Executive Director of Unitaid;Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of
Oxfam International; Maria C. Freire, President of the Foundation for the
National Institutes of Health;Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Professor of
International Affairs at The New School (Chair, KEI Board of
Directors);Kinga Göncz, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary;Yusuf
Hamied, Chairman of Cipla;Michael Kirby, former Justice of the High Court
of Australia;Malebona Precious Matsoso, Director General of the South
Africa National Department of Health:Ruth Okediji, Professor of Law,
University of Minnesota;Shiba Phurailatpam, Director of the Asia Pacific
Network of People Living With HIV (APN+)Andrew Witty, CEO of

*UACT is a union of people affected by cancer, their family members and
friends, people who take care of people with cancer, health care
professionals and cancer researchers committed to increasing access to
effective cancer treatment and care. We are particularly concerned about
the rapidly escalating cost of cancer medication and seek to fight for
cancer treatment and care to be affordable and available, everywhere, for
everyone who needs it. More at www.UACT.org <http://www.UACT.org>*

UACT <https://twitter.com/Cancer_Union>@Cancer_Union
+1 571 331 6879

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