[Ip-health] EB140: Statement of Medicus Mundi International and PHM on Addressing the global shortage of medicines and vaccines

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Jan 26 08:26:31 PST 2017

Medicus Mundi International – International Organisation for Cooperation in
Health Care (MMI)

Executive Board 140
Agenda Item:
8.3 Addressing the global shortage of medicines and vaccines

MMI would like to address agenda item 8.3. Our statement is supported by

We welcome the progress made in this area. However discussions on access
that relate to IP barriers and barriers posed by high prices in monopoly
situations are not clearly addressed. Addressing the global shortage of
medicines and vaccines also requires a discussion on innovation and access
to medicines.

Since the harmonisation of patent laws in 1995, the current monopoly-driven
R&D system fails to prioritise public health needs. The lack of better
norms and incentives for R&D causes the current imbalance in R&D priorities
which leaves many people without treatment.

Several years of discussions at the WHO on Innovation, IP and Public Health
have not resolved the current innovation and access crisis. We see an
opposite trend: compromised access to medicines due to high prices no
longer affects only developing countries, but increasingly patients in high
income countries too.

Across countries the public sector already invests large sums in R&D. Yet
without sufficient public health safeguards, the outcomes of such R&D are
often largely garnered by the private sector. Member States have sufficient
resources and capacity to implement novel R&D incentives and regulations.
For example, granting end prizes to innovators (instead of patent
monopolies) would enable generic production of medicines from the moment of
discovery, and would therefore de-link the price of medicines from the cost
of R&D.

Respecting its public health mandate, the WHO should lead and guide
countries in implementing such new incentives and regulations to address
current needs. The UN High Level Panel on Access to Medicines Report is an
eminent opportunity for the WHO to re-invigorate and renew its work in this
area. We urge the WHO and Member States to endorse the UNHLP Report and
work for implementation of its recommendations.

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