[Ip-health] Health Policy Watch: Public Health-Driven R&D Focus Of Draft HRC Resolution On Access To Medicines & Vaccines

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Mon Jun 24 21:42:55 PDT 2019


Public Health-Driven R&D Focus Of Draft HRC Resolution On Access To
Medicines & Vaccines

24/06/2019 by David Branigan

A United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) draft resolution on access to
medicines and vaccines calls for making public health needs more central to
the research and development (R&D) of new health products, and for the new
products to be priced to ensure access.

The draft resolution
circulated by the Core Group of countries – Brazil, China, Egypt, India,
Indonesia, Senegal, South Africa and Thailand – and obtained by *Health
Policy Watch*, includes new language that decries the failures of
market-driven R&D to address public health needs, with respect to rare and
neglected diseases, as well as antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The draft resolution – to be tabled at the 41st Session
the HRC, which opened today – calls for member states to find solutions to
access challenges, including through “public health-driven research and
development, alternative frameworks to adequately reward innovation,
pricing and affordability of health products, and leveraging innovative

The resolution reflects growing calls by UN member states for R&D actors to
address challenges in access to critical medicines and vaccines more
effectively, and it urges governments, international organisations,
non-governmental organisations, academic institutions, philanthropic
foundations and the private sector to work together to find solutions.

The debate follows the May adoption by the World Health Assembly of a milestone
resolution on transparency in medicines markets
where proposed language around the “delinkage” of R&D costs from prices was
omitted from the final draft, and language calling for greater transparency
of R&D costs was watered-down in negotiations by member states that
insisted such measures be purely voluntary.

The ongoing debate over these issues was carried over into a revised
working draft of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) political
declaration on universal health coverage
circulated in early June.

As for the HRC, the draft resolution raising the delicate R&D issue once
more is being circulated among HRC member states and will be submitted to
the Council for consideration in early July, according to sources. Prior to
that, informal consultations on the resolution are expected to take place
on 27 June, 1 July and 3 July.

The new draft HRC resolution on “Access to medicines and vaccines in the
context of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable
standard of physical and mental health,” represents an update of a previous
HRC resolution (32/15
<http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/alldocs.aspx?doc_id=26940>) adopted in 2016,
and reflects the recent momentum in the WHA as well as the UN General
Assembly on the issue.

A key section of the draft update proposed by the Core Group of member
states includes paragraphs referring to the need for “public health-driven
R&D” and new approaches to pricing, as follows:

*“PP28 Recognizing the need to appropriately address challenges, gaps,
market-failures and opportunities regarding the research and development of
health technologies, availability and affordability to treat, inter alia,
rare and neglected diseases, and respond to the growth of emerging
challenges such as antimicrobial resistance, among others, with a view to
avoid that exclusively market-driven approaches do not address adequately
public health needs, as well as taking into account the necessity to
promote alternative incentive frameworks to meet public health needs while
adequately rewarding innovation (NEW);*

*PP29 Considering the report by the WHO Director-General on cancer
medicines, which, pursuant to resolution WHA 70.12, examined the impacts of
pricing approaches, including transparency, on availability and
affordability of medicines for the prevention and treatment of cancer

*PP30 Recognizing with appreciation the introduction of new pharmaceutical
products based on investment in innovation for cancer treatment in recent
years, and noting with great concern the increasing cost to health systems
and patients, as well as emphasizing the importance of addressing barriers
in access to safe, quality, effective and affordable medicines, medical
products and appropriate technology for cancer prevention, detection,
screening diagnosis and treatment, including surgery, (NEW, Resolution WHA
70.12, adapted)”*

The draft resolution also includes paragraphs that call on all stakeholders
to work together to find solutions that ensure access to medicines,
including through public health-driven R&D, as follows:

*“8. Encourages the engagement between governments, international
organizations, non-governmental organizations , academic institutions,
philanthropic foundations and the private sector, as well as greater policy
coherence and coordinated actions through whole-of government and
health-in-all-policies approaches, to find solutions to health challenges,
such as the need for public health-driven research and development,
alternative frameworks to adequately reward innovation, pricing and
affordability of health products, and leveraging innovative technologies,
including digital technologies, and solutions for health (NEW,  WHO Roadmap
on Access to Medicines and Vaccines, adapted)*

*9. Urges States, in cooperation with other stakeholders, to redouble
efforts to achieve a  continuous  supply  of  quality,  safe,  effective
and  affordable health  products  through  research  and  development
that  meets public health needs, for the efficient application and
management of intellectual property standards, to carry out evidence-based
selection of health products and seek fair and affordable pricing,  to
adopt good procurement and supply chain management and promote appropriate
prescribing, dispensing and rational use of health products (NEW, WHO
Roadmap on Access to Medicines and Vaccines).”*

The resolution finally requests the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
to “convene, before the forty-fourth session of the Human Rights Council, a
full-day intersessional seminar on good practices, key challenges and new
developments relevant to access to medicines and vaccines,” and to invite
“States, relevant United Nations bodies, agencies, funds and programmes,
treaty bodies, special procedure mandate holders, national human rights
institutions, civil society and other relevant stakeholders, with a view to
ensuring their participation in the seminar.”

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

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