[Ip-health] Health Policy Watch: New Text Of Italian Transparency Proposal Shows North-South Divide Emerging

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed May 8 09:14:49 PDT 2019


08/05/2019 by David Branigan

A new draft text from an informal consultation at the World Health
Organization yesterday shows a North-South divide emerging as member states
proposed changes to the drug price transparency resolution, brought forward
by Italy earlier this year, that is slated for discussion at the World
Health Assembly later this month.

The changes, led by high-income European states, with support from the
United States and Australia, were described by civil society advocates of
drug price transparency as an attempt to strip the resolution of any
meaning and purpose, by deleting key provisions that make it useful in
promoting transparency.

The proposed resolution on “Improving the transparency of markets for
medicines, vaccines and other health-related technologies,” was tabled by
the Italian Ministry of Health in February
and is scheduled to be discussed this month at the annual World Health
Assembly (WHA) <https://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/governance/wha/en/> from
20-28 May.

At the closed-door informal consultation held yesterday, a group of
developed countries also attempted to postpone further discussions on the

A second session of the informal consultation will take place this Friday
10 May, at which the draft of the text that will be presented at the WHA
will be finalised.

Civil Society Responds to the Proposed Changes

“The intensity of discussions around the proposed transparency resolution
is indicative of the widespread interest and palpable sense of urgency
among member states struggling with unaffordable medicine prices. At the
same time there is a worrying chasm developing between the global North and
South, as seen in this week’s informal discussions,” Tim Reed, Executive
Director of Health Action International, told *Health Policy Watch*.

The proposed resolution is gaining support from countries that are trying
to “level the power imbalance between those selling medicines and those
buying them with the ultimate aim of addressing the unaffordability of high
medicine prices,” Katy Athersuch, Senior Policy Advisor at Médecins Sans
Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders), told *Health Policy Watch*.

“We were disappointed but not surprised to see that several northern
European governments, particularly Germany, UK, Denmark and Sweden have
attempted to strip the resolution of any meaning and purpose. It’s
disappointing, because these governments seem to be trying to protect the
interests of their pharmaceutical industries at the expense of increasing
affordability of medicines not only for people in developing countries, but
even for their own citizens,” she said.

“Tuesday’s informal was a full scale attack on efforts to expand
transparency, led by a handful of northern European countries protecting
domestic industries, with some assists from Australia and the United
States,” James Love, Director of Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
told *Health
Policy Watch*.

“The UK and several others tried to muddy the waters by adding several
confusing and distracting provisions in the text that had nothing to do
with transparency, and Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and the UK were the most
aggressive and seeking to delete anything that was remotely useful in
making prices, R&D costs, patent landscape and trial outcomes more
transparent,” he said.

KEI posted a comparison of the differences between the 5 May and 7 May
transparency resolution drafts here

Below are the countries that made revisions to the resolution, along with
the number of revisions.

   - Australia: 8
   - Austria: 3
   - Brazil: 9
   - Denmark: 15
   - Germany: 25
   - Hungary: 2
   - Poland: 2
   - Spain: 8
   - Sweden: 11
   - UK: 11
   - USA: 2

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

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