[Ip-health] FT - Three questions with Thomas Cueni

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Sat Nov 11 01:13:52 PST 2017


Three questions

We spoke to Thomas Cueni, appointed earlier this year as director-general
of the Internatisonal Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and
Associations, the industry trade body.

Do you agree with the pharma industry so aggressively defending patents?

Suing Nelson Mandela [to defend HIV drug patents in South Africa] was about
the dumbest thing the industry ever did. We’ve moved a long way in 10
years, including with the Medicines Patent Pool. But if you want
innovation, you need intellectual property. If you want to find new
solutions for antimicrobial resistance, dementia and immunological
disorders, you need the industry’s business model. I believe the industry
is now more open to thinking out of the box, engaging in public-private
partnerships, testing alternative models.

What are your top priorities at the IFPMA?

The biggest health threat right now is antimicrobial resistance. If we
don’t get our act together, instead of 700,000 people dying each year we
may have 10m by 2050. A second focus is universal health coverage. You will
not be able to make much progress unless you address the funding issues.
You need functioning health systems. But as long as two-thirds of the world
pays out of pocket, you will struggle to reach universal health coverage.
We as an industry can contribute. A third area is ethics and integrity.
Since the healthcare environment is extremely dynamic, there is constant
need to reflect the changes and echo them in our programmes such as
compliance training.

So how best to tackle anti-microbial resistance?

We need a holistic, comprehensive approach: antibiotics in animals,
improving stewardship of drugs including ethical promotion practices and
finding new ways and means to improve access and affordability. Unless we
get incentives sufficient to stimulate investment in R&D that are targeted
to public health priorities and linked to appropriate use, we will not get
the new antibiotics we need. We have some great “push” incentives to
stimulate early-stage discovery, but so far there has been far more
rhetoric than action on “pull” incentives.

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

More information about the Ip-health mailing list