[Ip-health] DNDi Statement on WHO Solidarity Call to Action

Rachel M. Cohen rachel.cohen72 at gmail.com
Fri May 29 11:01:54 PDT 2020

DNDi Statement on WHO Solidarity Call to Action

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) supports the World Health
Organization (WHO) Solidarity Call to Action for equitable global access to
COVID-19 health technologies, and commits to implementing its
recommendations in its efforts to accelerate COVID-19 research in low- and
middle-income countries. 

As a not-for-profit, collaborative research and development (R&D)
organization that has developed and delivered eight affordable and
non-patented treatments for five deadly diseases, we know from firsthand
experience that open sharing of research knowledge, intellectual property
(IP), and data improves efficiency and accelerates scientific progress.

DNDi experience shows that a 'chain of openness' from early stage discovery
through to clinical development is possible. But this requires that all R&D
actors - public, private, academic, and not-for-profit - have a clear and
shared vision for the end goal, underpinned by agreements that anticipate
and remove any potential roadblocks to progress. 

Agreements must be entered into as early as possible in the R&D process, not
at the end, with clear terms and conditions not only about sharing and
licensing of research knowledge, IP, and clinical trial data, but also about
how to ensure end products are affordable and available. 

This is not always easy. It requires all R&D actors to step away from
business as usual and work collectively and collaboratively. 

Given the global scale and magnitude of COVID-19, we do not have time for
drawn-out closed-door negotiations.  Governments must take steps now to put
in place clear conditions on funding that ensure openness, and if necessary,
use of all legal tools to ensure access. Technology owners should now
license their IP for use by all globally on a non-exclusive basis, or not
enforce it.  

In parallel, steps will also need to be taken to ensure sufficient
production, equitable allocation, and affordable pricing. Increasing
existing production capacity will not be enough. Additional sources will
need to be created, including through transfer of technology. 

Once new health tools are developed, they will need to be equitably
allocated both between wealthier and poorer countries, and within countries.
This cannot be driven by the deepest pockets but by public health need: the
most vulnerable and those at highest risk must be prioritized. The pricing
of these tools must be as close as possible to what it costs to make them,
so that they are affordable for health systems, and free to those most in

Now is the time to take concrete steps to ensure that COVID-19 drugs,
diagnostics, vaccines and other health technologies are available as global
public goods. We urge governments and all other public and private actors to
join this Call and work together to ensure COVID-19 health tools are in the
hands of clinicians and patients as quickly as possible so that we can
diagnose, treat, prevent, and ultimately help defeat this global pandemic.

Rachel M. Cohen | Regional Executive Director
Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative - North America
40 Rector Street, 16th Floor | New York, NY 10006 | USA 
T: +1 646 215 7083 | M: +1 646 824 3064 | rcohen at dndi.org | skype:
Best Science for the Most Neglected | www.dndi.org

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