[Ip-health] STAT+: Italy proposes the WHO set international standards for drug-pricing transparency

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Feb 14 23:15:26 PST 2019


Italy proposes the WHO set international standards for drug-pricing

FEBRUARY 14, 2019

As more countries seek to control their health care spending, the Italian
government is asking the World Health Assembly to adopt a resolution that
would require drug makers to disclose their R&D and production costs, as
well as prices charged for medicines and vaccines.

In explaining the rationale for such a move, Italian health minister Giulia
Grillo wrote to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros
Ghebreyesus that “international action is required to improve transparency”
in order to widen access to pharmaceuticals.

Specifically, the resolution would provide the WHO with a mandate to
collect and analyze data on clinical trial outcomes; analyze the patent
landscape; and provide a forum for countries to share information on
prices, R&D and marketing costs, R&D subsidies, and public sector
investments. As part of the effort, the WHO would be encouraged to create a
web-based tool so data can be compared.

At the same time, individual countries — or member states — would be urged
to require drug makers to provide similar information, and withhold product
registration if companies fail to comply. Countries would also be
encouraged to avoid adopting measures in any trade agreements that “limit
transparency” into pricing and costs, among other things.

In effect, the proposal would set an international standard and, for this
reason, is likely to be widely debated, given that the pharmaceutical
industry has resisted similar efforts elsewhere. The resolution is expected
to be discussed at the World Health Assembly in May, according to a source.
A spokeswoman for the International Federal of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers
and Associations declined to comment.

The proposal comes amid intensifying efforts by a growing number of
cash-strapped countries to contain the rising cost of medicines. Recently,
more government officials or lawmakers — from Malaysia to El Salvador to
the U.K. — have explored compulsory licenses, which are granted to a
generic drug maker to copy a patented medicine without the consent of the
company that owns the patent.


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

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