[Ip-health] HAI and Medicus Mundi statements at WHO EB on CEWG demonstration projects

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Fri Jan 24 08:20:37 PST 2014


Submitted by James Love <http://keionline.org/user/4> on 24. January 2014 -

Three NGOs, Medicus Mundi International, HAI and MSF, each read statements
during the EB discussions on the CEWG demonstration projects. The
statements were limited to 300 words, and NGOs were required to provide the
text 24 hours before the agenda item, and obtain WHO approval of the
content. KEI worked with HAI on its statement, and the Peoples Health
Movement worked with MMI on its statement. The text of the HAI and MMI
statements follow:

*Health Action International (HAI) statement to EB 134 On agenda item 9.3,
follow up to CEWG on financing and coordination*

Stichting Health Action International (HAI) is grateful for the opportunity
to provide candid and constructive comments on WHO's work on the R&D
demonstration projects.

While the projects endorsed by the experts group last December address
important health needs, and several propose good policies as regards the
management of intellectual property rights and access to products, they
collectively do not test the more transformative reforms that are needed to
scale up access to medicine for all.

It may be that the CEWG demonstration projects will be a forgettable
footnote in the effort to introduce larger reforms in the financing of R&D
for new medicines, and that the discussions about the R&D Observatory and
the R&D treaty will continue to advance this agenda.

Several of the demonstration projects that were endorsed during the country
consultations proposed new incentive mechanisms, including open source
development models that used medical innovation inducement prizes to delink
R&D incentives from product prices. None of these projects were selected by
the experts. The expert group generally endorsed more traditional grant

The reason why it is important for the WHO to consider new incentive
mechanisms is because the current incentive mechanisms -- the grant of
product monopolies -- lead to high prices, access barriers, and people
dying for lack of access to expensive products.

HAI calls upon the EB, and the WHO, to make real progress on the
implementation of delinkage of R&D costs from product prices, and this
includes reforming the incentive system.

On the issue of the R&D demonstration projects, HAI asks that EB to
consider all of the proposals for demonstration projects that were
supported by the regional groups, together with the specific
recommendations of the Experts Group, and ask the WHA to reach a decision
that includes at least one concrete test of new incentive mechanisms.

*Medicus Mundi International, Statement to the 134th Session of the WHO
Executive Board on agenda item 9.3 Follow-up of the report of the
Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing
and Coordination*

Thank you, Chair, for the opportunity to address the EB on behalf of MMI
and the PHM.

We congratulate WHO for providing leadership in relation to "Health R&D".
However, Document 134/26 clearly proposes a voluntary funding mechanism to
pool funds. Such a mechanism is likely to be financially unstable and might
face pressures from donors -whether countries or non-state entities- based
on their individual interests. We therefore repeat previous calls for a
global R&D treaty that is funded through mandatory contributions from
countries and that incorporates the two most important principles
enunciated in the CEWG report: open sharing of knowledge and de-linking the
costs of R&D from the price of the final product. The proposal for the
Global Health R&D Observatory seems to be structured as a top down process.
The document doesn't explain how the Observatory will engage with actors at
the country level or how the Observatory will function in the context of
other similar initiatives promoted by diverse organizations that may be
driven by agendas different from the one of the WHO.

Regarding the demonstration projects, we have concerns about potential
conflicts of interests for several experts on the project selection
committee and on the criteria that have driven the whole process. We are
surprised that the Category C criteria (whether the demonstration project
would test a new approach to R&D) was not the starting point for the
selection but it was examined after projects were selected for Criteria A
and B.

Given these premises, it is unlikely that the demonstration projects could
represent a useful contribution to addressing the current failure of global
health R&D.

Fundamental changes in the landscape of innovative activity related to
health products, require more decisive and bold measures in order to
develop systems of innovation that privilege human lives over patents and

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