The United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines today issued its final report. The main report was accompanied by eleven pages of additional commentary, including ares of dissent from six panel members, plus additional explanations of the process.
The panel was asked to address the policy incoherence from granting monopolies for products on the one hand, and promoting access on the other:
In keeping with the commitment of United Nations Member States to enhance policy coherence for sustainable development, the High-Level Panel’s terms of reference called for it to “review and assess proposals and recommend solutions for remedying the policy incoherence between the justifiable rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules and public health in the context of health technologies,” among other things. In accordance with the principle of universality that underpins the 2030 Agenda and its aspiration to leave no one behind, the High-Level Panel views innovation and access to health technologies as a multi-dimensional and global problem that affects all countries.
Delinkage was mentioned 32 times in the report, including in recommendation 3.4(c), which reads:
Recommendation 3.4(c): Building on current discussions at the WHO, the United Nations Secretary-General should initiate a process for governments to negotiate global agreements on the coordination, financing and development of health technologies. This includes negotiations for a binding R&D Convention that delinks the costs of research and development from end prices to promote access to good health for all. Such a Convention should focus on public health needs, including but not limited to, innovation for neglected tropical diseases and antimicrobial resistance and must complement existing mechanisms.
There were tensions within the panel, which were evident in the additional commentary. Some members wanted the delinkage recommendations more closely tied to specific areas of market failure, such as neglected tropical diseases or antibiotic drugs, as if unequal and restricted access to expensive medicines is not itself a market failure to address.
Press and Reactions
Various civil society organizations and industry groups, as well as researchers, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies, responded to the HLP report. Those responses, as well as press, are below.
- Shreerupa Mitra-Jha, “UN high-level panel report on access to medicines a boost for those delivering life-saving drugs,” First Post, September 15, 2016.
- Ben Adams, “Biopharmas bite back at UN’s scathing life science R&D report,” FierceBiotech, September 15, 2016.
- Charity Today, “Governments should bring down the cost of medicines, says Oxfam,” September 15, 2016.
- The Pharma Letter, “UN report seeks to close health innovation and access gap, but IFPMA is not convinced,” September 15, 2016.
- D. Ravi Kanth, “Ensure genuine innovation in drug patents: UN panel,” Live Mint, September 15, 2016.
- Solomon Asaba, “Improve access to generic drugs, UN tells governments,” The New Times, September 15, 2016.
- Kim Dixon and Helen Collis, “UN drug access report wins praise, ruffles feathers,” September 14, 2016.
- Kim Dixon, “UN panel calls for strict new laws to spur drug access,” POLITICO EU, September 14, 2016.
- Ben Hirschler, “U.N. panel challenges market-based approach to drug R&D,” Reuters, September 14, 2016.
- Ned Pagliarulo, “UN group urges ‘de-linkage’ of R&D costs from drug prices,” BioPharma Dive, September 14, 2016.
- David Crow, “Poorer countries need rapid access to generic drugs, UN says,” Financial Times, September 14, 2016.
- Catharine Saez, “UN High-Level Panel On Access To Medicines Issues “Landmark” Report,” Intellectual Property Watch, September 14, 2016.
- Zachary Brennan, “Long-Awaited UN Report Calls for Breaking Link Between Drug R&D Costs and Prices,” RAPS Regulatory Focus, September 14, 2016.
- Adam Rubenfire, “U.N. report suggests patent laws should incentivize innovation among drug and device makers,” Modern Healthcare, September 14, 2016.
- Harriet Grant, “UN calls on big pharma to reduce cost of life-saving medicines,” The Guardian, September 14, 2016.
- Tamar Kahn, “Governments should get tougher on drug patents, says UN,” BussinessDay BDlive, September 14, 2016.
- Michelle Lee, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Testimony before the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, September 13, 2016.
Consumer & Health Group Statements
- PATH, “PATH Statement on the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines Report,” September 15, 2016.
- Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), “KEI Statement on United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines Report,” September 14, 2016.
- Health Action International (HAI), “Health Action International Response to Report by UN High-level Panel on Access to Medicines,” September 14, 2016.
- Health GAP, “Health GAP Statement on the Final Report of the UN Secretary-general’s High Level Panel on Access to Medicines,” September 14, 2016.
- Treatment Action Campaign and SECTION27, “UN Report Strengthens Case for Patent Law Reform in SA and Other Developing Countries,” September 14, 2016.
- Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, “Doctors Without Borders Response to Report from UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines,” September 14, 2016.
- Oxfam, “Governments must act on new UN Report to bring down the cost of medicines says Oxfam,” September 14, 2016.
- Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, “UN High-level Panel Says Trade Agreements Such as TPP Threaten Public Health and Human Rights,” September 14, 2016.
- Tom Giovanetti, “UN panel blames capitalism, property rights for lack of access to medicines in poor nations,” Fox News Opinion, September 14, 2016.
- Joseph Allen, “UN Secretary General’s Panel on Access to Medicines Reports: Government Knows Best,” IPWatchdog, September 15, 2016.
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “U.S. Chamber Condemns UN Report Attacking Patents,” September 14, 2016.
- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), “PhRMA Statement on the United Nations High Level Panel Report on Access to Medicines,” September 14, 2016.
- Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), “BIO Statement Regarding the UN High Level Panel on Access to Medicines Report,” September 14, 2016.
- International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA), “Biopharmaceutical industry calls the recommendations of UN High Level Panel on Access to Medicines a missed opportunity to genuinely address patients’ needs,” September 14, 2016.
- Amir Ullah Khan, “Market-based system for drug R&D is force for progress,” Malay Mail Online, September 15, 2016.