[Ip-health] Pharmafile: UK government refuses to sign up to WHO pricing transparency resolution

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Mon Jun 3 23:11:27 PDT 2019


UK government refuses to sign up to WHO pricing transparency resolution

Published on 29/05/19 at 12:03pm
Image Credit: United States Mission Geneva

*The UK government has refused to sign up to a global resolution on
transparency in drug pricing which urges governments to share information
on the prices they pay for drugs.*

The draft resolution would urge World Health Organization (WHO) member
states to share and distribute information on: the prices paid for
medicines, the costs of developing those medicines, and the revenues
generated through sales of medicines.

The resolution was put forward by Andorra, Brazil, Egypt, Eswatini, Greece,
India, Italy, Kenya, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Portugal, Russian
Federation, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Uganda.

The draft resolution, which was discussed at the WHO’s World Health
Assembly (WHA), was described as ‘game changing’ by those campaigning for
price transparency and ‘enthusiastically welcomed’ by the United States.

However WHO member states including the UK, Germany, and Japan
disassociated themselves from the resolution which had been ‘watered down’
in an effort to secure support.

An earlier draft would have given the WHO the power to collect and analyse
data on the costs of making and trialling drugs.

Many of those opposing the resolution rely on their ability to secure steep
discounts from drugmakers to keep their costs down.

Julian Braithwaite, the UK’s permanent representative to the UN and WTO in
Geneva, said: “The issues, structures and economic principles of improving
access to medicines are complex and multi-dimensional. The UK has been keen
to ensure that where preferential and differential pricing is working well
in lower income countries, new approaches to transparency do not threaten

“We believe that more time should have been allowed to enable all involved
to carefully consider the potentially far-reaching implications of the
resolution and to consult stakeholders appropriately… For [this reason],
the UK is left with no option but to disassociate ourselves with this

In a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock and International Development
Secretary Rory Stewart, 66 NGOs working in sub-Saharan Africa called on the
UK government to support the initiative.

“The UK government’s opposition to this resolution is in sharp contrast to
its claim to act as a leader in global health. A true champion of global
health would vocally support this initiative,” the letter said.

Gaelle Krikorian from MSF, said: “We need to know the mark-ups corporations
charge, production costs, the cost of clinical trials, how much investment
is really covered by companies, and how much is underwritten by taxpayers
and non-profit groups.”

Director of StopAids, Mike Podmore, said: “It is outrageous that the UK
government attempted to derail WHA negotiations on this important
transparency resolution. It is doubly shameful that they have disassociated
themselves even after they had already secured damaging amendments that
significantly weakened the resolution.

“The UK government must no longer block measures for greater transparency
of the drug industry that will help ensure lower drug prices and make sure
everyone can access the medicines they need.”

*Louis Goss*

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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