[Ip-health] EB142: Oxfam statement on WHO’s decision on the Shortage of medicines

Mohga Kamal-Yanni mkamalyanni at Oxfam.org.uk
Tue Jan 30 10:13:14 PST 2018

Thank you

Oxfam would like to thank WHO secretariat for the Shortage of Medicine 
document. We would like to focus on one theme which runs across all the 
steps of access to medicines, from R&D to pricing, which includes 
Intellectual Property issues, the supply chain until it reaches patients. 
This theme is transparency. 

Most decisions around medicines are shrouded in secrecy. Here are 5 
aspects of secrecy that hinder access to medicines:

1.      Cost of R&D: how can a national authority decide whether a price 
is fair if it does not know the real cost of making the medicine? A figure 
given by one study funded by pharmaceutical companies is the only 
reference. Yet the high price is justified by unfounded figures. 

2.      Prices: they vary across countries, set simply at the maximum 
which each market can bear. It is difficult for countries to decide on 
appropriate prices if they do not know the prices in other jurisdictions. 
The HLP report recommends expanding the existing WHO price database to all 
medicines in all counties. This requires governments and companies to 
provide WHO with accurate price information and requires the WHO being 
funded to do this work.

3.      Patent information: It is very difficult to get information on who 
holds what patent in which country on any medicine! This has a chilling 
effect on generic manufacturers for fear of infringing on a patent if they 
produce a generic version. 

4.      Clinical trials: studies have shown that trials that have positive 
results have more chances of being published than those that show neutral 
or bad side effects. Yet medical guidelines and prescriptions depend on 
test results. The WHO has a website but pharma companies have not 
populated it yet! 

5.      FTAs normally include measures that tie governments’ hands from 
adopting pro health policies. Yet these agreements are negotiated in 
secret. Only occasional leaked drafts reveal what is included. This is not 

We urge the EB to support WHO secretariat to strengthen its work on 
ensuring transparency in the whole chain of medicines from R&D to 
patients’ use in order to ensure that people can access quality and 
affordable medicines they need. 

Best wishes from Geneva  مع أطيب التمنيات من جنيف 
Mohga -Dictating to the computer so please forgive silly mistakes
Dr. Mohga Kamal-Yanni
Senior health & HIV policy advisor, Oxfam GB
Editor of www.globalhealthcheck.org
John Smith Drive, Oxford, OX4 2JY, UK (GMT, CET-1, EDT+5, EST+6)
UK Mobile   + 44 (0)777 62 55 884
Follow me @MohgaKamalYanni

Oxfam works with others to overcome poverty and suffering.

Oxfam GB is a member of Oxfam International and a company limited by guarantee registered in England No. 612172.
Registered office: Oxfam House, John Smith Drive, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2JY.
A registered charity in England and Wales (no 202918) and Scotland (SC 039042)

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