[Ip-health] Reuters: WHO drug pricing talks may fail to end secrecy, activists fear

James Love james.love at keionline.org
Thu May 23 09:15:53 PDT 2019


One clarification on my quote. The resolution would not be binding on
governments.  But the resolution urged countries to make reporting of
clinical trial costs mandatory.

These were some of Azar's key quotes:

*  On Monday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the
United States was very supportive of greater drug pricing transparency,
hoping to bring down published “list prices” for drugs and “out of pocket
expenses” for consumers.

*  But there were some areas where lifting the veil of corporate secrecy
may not be worthwhile, such as in R&D spending, Azar told reporters.

*  “The question around R&D is: is that actually meaningful transparency,
and information that would go into the pricing and negotiation of products?
We suspect that is not necessarily the highest value area for our efforts,
but we continue to look at that.”

For a more context, remember that as recent as January 2017, Azar was
President of Lilly USA and a board member of BIO.

Patrick  Durisch from Public Eye was also quoted.

This is the Reuters story.

WHO drug pricing talks may fail to end secrecy, activists fear
Tom Miles

GENEVA (Reuters) - Governments are working on a drug pricing transparency
deal at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual assembly, but
activists said on Thursday they fear crucial costs may be left out,
enabling pharmaceutical firms to keep prices high.

Campaigners say some drugs are exorbitantly priced, even though they are
often developed with public funding, and health providers often pay far too
much, since governments negotiate prices without knowing what the treatment
cost to develop.

“We are not talking about a revolution for the sector, we are talking about
just setting a fair price according to what has been invested,” said Patrick
Durisch at Public Eye, a Swiss non-profit organization. “Why should it be
different for the pharmaceutical industry than in other sectors?”

A six-page draft published by the WHO on Thursday urges states to publish
prices and costs of medicines, vaccines, cell and gene-based therapies and
other health technologies, and improve the transparency of medical patents.

The draft, a work in progress with many proposed changes to the text, could
also mandate the WHO to collect and analyze data and costs from clinical
trials and procurement prices for medicines and vaccines, although the
draft showed Switzerland, Germany and Japan have asked for that section to
be deleted.

On Monday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the
United States was very supportive of greater drug pricing transparency,
hoping to bring down published “list prices” for drugs and “out of pocket
expenses” for consumers.

But there were some areas where lifting the veil of corporate secrecy may
not be worthwhile, such as in R&D spending, Azar told reporters.

“The question around R&D is: is that actually meaningful transparency, and
information that would go into the pricing and negotiation of products? We
suspect that is not necessarily the highest value area for our efforts, but
we continue to look at that.”

Transparency campaigners said they feared that a handful of countries,
including Germany and Britain, were trying to kill the resolution with “a
thousand cuts”.

Gaelle Krikorian from medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said she
could not understand why governments, which buy medicines, wanted to
blindfold themselves in price negotiations with drug companies.

“We want to open the black box,” she said.

James Love, director of Knowledge Economy International, said that although
the resolution was not mandatory, asking firms to report the cost of
clinical trials was proving controversial.

“There’s a strong possibility that the delegates agree on a resolution that
does not touch on costs at all,” he said.

The assembly ends on Tuesday.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Alexandra Hudson


-- 
James Love.  Knowledge Ecology International
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