[Ip-health] IP-Watch: WHO Members Urged To Support Resolution Delinking Cancer Drug Prices From R&D Costs

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Fri May 5 03:26:57 PDT 2017


WHO Members Urged To Support Resolution Delinking Cancer Drug Prices From
R&D Costs


A group of civil society organisations and health experts have sent a
letter to delegates to this month’s annual World Health Assembly urging
support for a study on the delinkage of the costs of research and
development from the prices of cancer medicines. Member states reportedly
met on the issue today and are still undecided.

During the upcoming World Health Assembly, taking place from 22-31 May, a
resolution on cancer is expected to be before the Assembly, following a
discussion in January at the World Health Organization Executive Board with
no consensus on the language (IPW, WIPO, 2 February 2017).

According to a source, WHO delegates met today at the WHO. Some 25
delegations met to further discuss the resolution.

The paragraph of the resolution talking about delinkage between the R&D
cost and the prices of medicines is the only remaining open paragraph,
according to the source.

Knowledge Ecology International Director James Love told Intellectual
Property Watch, “you will never have universal access without delinkage. It
is the only hope that you have to bring prices down.” People who resist
delinkage are accepting rationing and inequality, he added.

A group of 28 health non-governmental organisations and health experts sent
a letter [pdf] to support the language in the draft WHA cancer resolution
calling for a feasibility study on delinkage.

The letter argues that cancer medicine prices are too high, “they are not
affordable or sustainable, and access to new cancer medicines in unequal
and unfair.”

“None of the 56 novel cancer medicines approved by the US FDA [Food and
Drug Administration] from 2010 to 2016 are included in the WHO Model List
of Essential Medicines (EML), and many are rationed or not reimbursed even
in high income countries, because of the price,” the letter says.

“Delegates to the World Health Assembly need be open to alternative R&D
[research and development] models that do not rely on unaffordable medicine
prices as the predominant way to fund cancer drug innovation,” it adds.

If the WHA does not decide on the feasibility study, it would be bending
“to the power of large pharmaceutical corporations and their agents, that
have a vested interest in defending a system that puts the price of
medicine above the interests of the patient.”

EU Support?

Separately, Knowledge Ecology International sent a letter [pdf] to the
European Union on 31 March to express concern about access to cancer drugs
in the EU, and asking the EU to support the feasibility study.

The EU responded that there is a widespread agreement by Member States on
the need for a WHO cancer resolution to be adopted in May 2017. “The
majority of the Resolution is accepted with great support,” the EU said,
according to a copy of the letter.

The letter notes the concerns of the EU about the increasing prices of
cancer treatments, and states that the European Commission statement
“advocates for a robust and comprehensive Cancer Resolution that can help
drive national progress, particularly in low- and middle-income countries
that face the biggest challenges of a rapidly growing cancer burden.

Without mentioning the feasibility study, the letter says “the Cancer
Resolution will be a landmark document for cancer and should call for the
development and implementation of national cancer plans, population-based
cancer registries, a world cancer report and a well-trained oncology

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