[Ip-health] Reuters: WHO agrees watered-down resolution on transparency in drug costs

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Tue May 28 03:51:48 PDT 2019


MAY 28, 2019 / 11:45 AM / UPDATED AN HOUR AGO

WHO agrees watered-down resolution on transparency in drug costs

GENEVA (Reuters) - World Health Organization members agreed on Tuesday to
push for clearer drug pricing but stepped back from proposals by activists
to force pharmaceutical firms to disclose the cost of making medicines.

Activists say drug companies can charge high prices for some medicines and
governments spend too much, because they negotiate without knowing how much
each drug actually costs to make.

Drug companies argue that cost information is a commercial secret. They say
new drugs should be priced according to the benefits they bring to
patients, regardless of production and development costs, to ensure
companies have a commercial incentive to tackle disease.

An earlier draft of the text would have given the WHO explicit powers to
collect and analyze data on procurement prices and costs from clinical
trials. But that wording was omitted from a draft published on Tuesday.

A WHO committee adopted the draft by consensus after a long negotiation,
just in time for it to be considered by the WHO’s annual assembly which was
due to close later on Tuesday.

The agreed text of the resolution, which was initially proposed by Italy,
“urges member states in accordance with their national and regional legal
frameworks and contexts” to publicly share information on net prices and
support dissemination and enhanced availability of data.

WHO member states would also pledge to support dissemination of information
about the costs from clinical trials, if it is already publicly available
or voluntarily provided, regardless of the outcome of the trial.

James Love, head of the transparency campaign group Knowledge Ecology
International called the resolution a “solid start” in addressing the issue
but said the text made “tortured dances around R&D costs”.

“This will be seen by industry as language making costs data confidential
information,” he said on Twitter.

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations
industry lobby group was not immediately available for comment.

The deal will also mandate the WHO to monitor the impact of transparency on
prices and to keep supporting governments with help on pricing transparency
policies and data.

“Overall, the resolution is, as expected, weaker overall than the version
from May 20 sponsors text, but represents an impressive statement on price
transparency, at time when non-disclosure agreements have become
increasingly common,” Love said.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Peter Graff

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

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