[Ip-health] MSF statement at Human Rights Council panel discussion on the UN HLP report on Access to Medicines

Joanna Keenan joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Wed Mar 8 07:35:39 PST 2017

MSF statement at Human Rights Council panel discussion on the UN
Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines

MSF enthusiastically welcomes the report
from the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines,
which puts forth actionable recommendations to help overcome the challenges
that our medical teams have faced for decades – being left essentially
empty-handed when the medicines, vaccines and diagnostics we need for
patients don’t exist, or are too expensive.

We especially welcome the report’s focused mandate and its global scope
that recognises that today all countries and people, no matter where they
live, face challenges in affordably accessing the medical tools they need
to live healthy lives. High drug and vaccines prices are now a global
crisis, for a broad variety of diseases and medical technologies, including
in developed countries where medical care is being rationed and health
budgets are under threat.

The UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel’s report also recognises a
global innovation crisis. During the Ebola
<https://www.msfaccess.org/common-tags/ebola>outbreak there was no
effective, ready to use vaccines, treatments or diagnostics, and today
there are still no effective and ready to use treatments.  Standard
drug-resistant tuberculosis
<https://www.msfaccess.org/our-work/tuberculosis>treatment remains painful,
toxic, unaffordable and mostly ineffective to save lives, and antimicrobial
<https://www.msfaccess.org/structural-tags/antimicrobial-resistance> is
growing with very few new antibiotics in the development pipeline.

This can be changed.

Yet governments are making change difficult for us and for themselves. Some
governments are negotiating expanded intellectual property protections on
behalf of pharmaceutical corporations through trade agreements that will
keep affordable medicines out of the hands of people and medical treatment
providers like MSF for ever-longer periods of time. For years, MSF has
campaigned against the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP
<https://www.msfaccess.org/common-tags/trans-pacific-partnership>). Two
weeks ago, MSF raised the alarm about proposals included in the ongoing
negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP
<https://www.msfaccess.org/common-tags/rcep>) agreement, including
Investor-state dispute settlement provisions that will allow pharmaceutical
corporations to sue governments that try to promote public health and
access to medicines, like Canada, Colombia and recently Ukraine.

The UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel’s report correctly recognised
that countries have options to demonstrate a better path forward. The
report recommendations urge Governments to reform the way R&D is performed
so that rather than being guided by what earns the highest returns,
companies and innovators are guided by incentives that encourage them to
focus on developing drugs that address unmet and essential health needs,
that do not trade off innovation and access, and in particular that de-link
the cost of R&D from the expectation of high prices of the end product.

MSF would like to recognise the leadership of the countries that have
requested that the recommendations of the Report be discussed in the 34th
session of the Human Rights Council.
We believe the discussion at the Human Rights Council could focus on:

   - *Create a process for OHCHR to perform human right public health
   assessments of trade agreements,* so that bilateral and regional trade
   and investment treaties do not include provisions that interfere with
   government obligations to fulfil the right to health as recommended in the
   UN HLP Report (2.6.1.e). These impact assessments should verify that
   increased trade and economic benefits are not endangering or impeding human
   rights and public health obligations of governments and its people before
   entering into such commitments. Assessments should inform negotiations, be
   conducted transparently, and be made publicly available.

   - *Create a process for OHCHR to assist in the periodic review of the
   access to medicines challenges in countries, in light of human rights
   principles and States’ obligations to fulfil them* as recommended in the
   UN HLP Report (4.3.1.a). The results of these assessments should be made
   publicly available. Civil society should be financially supported to submit
   their own shadow reports on innovation and access to health technologies.

   -  *Create a process for OHCHR to help increase national policy
   coherence and facilitate the participation of Human Rights entities and
   civil society in relevant national processes and negotiations*. The UN
   HLP report (4.3.1 b) recommends that Governments should strengthen national
   level policy and institutional coherence between trade and intellectual
   property, the right to health, and public health objectives by establishing
   national inter-ministerial bodies to coordinate laws, policies and
   practices that may impact on health technology innovation and access.
   Appropriate member/s of the national executive who can manage competing
   priorities, mandates and interests should convene such bodies. The
   deliberations and decisions of such groups should operate with maximum
   transparency. Civil society should be financially supported to participate
   and submit their shadow reports on innovation and access to health

   - *Create a mandate for the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health
   to develop guidelines and best practices on how to increase transparency*
   on R&D, production, pricing and distribution of health technologies as
   recommended in the UN SG HLP (recommendation 4.3.4).

Thank you.

*Joanna Keenan*

Press Officer

Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign

P: +41 22 849 87 45

M: +41 79 203 13 02

E: joanna.keenan[at]geneva.msf.org

T: @joanna_keenan




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