[Ip-health] UN News: Greater transparency, fairer prices for medicines ‘a global human rights issue’, says UN health agency

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Mon Apr 15 11:31:26 PDT 2019


14 April 2019

While developing countries have long struggled with the price of medicines,
today’s costs have rendered it a world-wide challenge, and the key topic of
concern at a global medicines forum in South Africa, co-sponsored by the
World Health Organization (WHO).

“This is a global human rights issue”, said WHO Assistant Director-General
for Medicines and Health Products Mariângela Simão on Saturday at the WHO
Forum on Medicines in Johannesburg. “Everyone has a right to access quality

The forum on fair pricing and access to medicines provided a discussion
platform for governments, civil society organizations and the
pharmaceutical industry to identify strategies to reduce prices and expand
access for all.

It also called for greater transparency around the cost of research,
development and production of medicines, to allow buyers to negotiate more
affordable prices.

According to WHO, the price of out-of-pocket medicines each year has pushed
100 million people into poverty. Moreover, health authorities in
high-income countries are increasingly having to ration medicines for
cancer, hepatitis C and rare diseases. And the problem extends to older
medicines whose patents have expired, such as insulin for diabetes.

“Medical innovation has little social value if most people cannot access
its benefits,” stressed Ms. Simão.

A 2017 WHO report showed that the cost of producing most medicines on its
Essential Medicines List was a small fraction of the final price.

Some forum delegates noted that a lack of transparency around prices paid
by governments actually translates into many low- and middle-income
countries paying more for certain medicines than wealthier countries do.


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

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