[Ip-health] POLITICO Pro Morning Health Care: Italy's transparency push

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Feb 14 22:50:21 PST 2019

February 15, 2019

By Sarah Wheaton

5Stars Health Minister Giulia Grillo, Italy is poised to become a new
champion of the international campaign for drug pricing transparency.

Italy is considering putting forward a draft resolution at May’s World
Health Assembly that would give the World Health Organization an
“authoritative mandate to strengthen WHO’s technical work” on transparency
of both R&D costs and drug prices, Grillo wrote in a letter to World Health
Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Dated February 1,
the letter
 and draft resolution
been making the rounds among governments and civil society groups.

The resolution would task the WHO with collecting and analyzing outcomes of
clinical trials and adverse outcome reports; providing a venue for
governments to share drug pricing information, revenue, R&D costs, public
subsidies, etc.; and providing information on patents and related disputes.

*Cancer report reverberates*: The WHO’s technical report on cancer drug
— which
global innovative pharma lobby boss Thomas Cueni bashed as “deeply flawed
— is a major motivator for Italy. Grillo called it a “tour-de-force.”

*Access campaigners cheer:* Italy, which is also a key force in the
Valletta Declaration joint procurement group, appears to be joining the
Netherlands and Austria as the countries taking a harder line on Big Pharma.

“Italy is among the countries in Europe struggling to provide universal
access to the best medical technologies. It is no long possible to avoid
debates about reforms of prices and incentives,” said James Love, director
of NGO Knowledge Ecology International. “The transparency initiative is a
necessary measure to have an intelligent discussion about both prices and

“The fact an EU member state is taking this bold step and already gathering
support from states and civil society is meaningful,” said Jaume Vidal, a
policy adviser with Health Action International. Opposing greater
transparency “is to be on the wrong side of history,” he added.

*Secrets with purpose: *We didn’t hear back immediately from innovative
Pharma organizations. But they argue that keeping prices confidential is
the only way they can offer better deals to poorer countries — especially
amid rhetoric from U.S. President Donald Trump about pegging American
prices to international reference prices. Research is expensive and
experiments often fail, so it’s not fair to look just at the cost of R&D
for a particular drug to justify its cost, they contend.

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

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