WHO Report: Access, Affordability Of Medicines Key To Reducing Non-Communicable Diseases 19/01/2015 by James Cote for Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)A new report from the World Health Organization examines the Global action plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases 2013-2020 (known as the Global NCD Action Plan) and provides some “lessons learnt from implementation.” The report calls for urgent action by governments to stop the “epidemic” of cancer and mostly preventable diseases from sources like tobacco use, salt intake, physical inactivity, and high blood pressure. This includes ensuring treatment is available and affordable, it says. The Global status report on prevention and control of NCDs [pdf] released today, “provides data on the current situation, identifying bottlenecks as well as opportunities and priority actions for attaining the targets.” The WHO press release is available here. The report notes that inadequate progress is not always for lack of interventions, but “a reflection of inadequate investment in cost-effective NCD interventions.” It provides diverse examples of countries whose interventions have been successful. It also gives countries an idea of where they stand in relation to other countries. The report is intended to guide countries’ efforts toward nine NCD targets. The overarching target of the Global NCD Action Plan is a 25 percent relative reduction in overall mortality from NCDs by 2025. There are also eight supplementary targets. The four major NCDs that the WHO is addressing are: cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases. Two of the targets focus on access to medicines and technology. Target 8 of the report recommends a country aim for “at least 50% of eligible people receive drug therapy and counseling to prevent heart attacks and strokes.” The report stresses that “[e]ssential technologies and medicines have to be available and affordable.” To achieve this, health-care systems must be sustainably financed and have reliable procurement and distribution systems. Target 9 recommends that a country ensure “an 80% availability of the affordable basic technologies and essential medicines, including generics, required to treat major noncommunicable diseases in both public and private facilities.” This is a major issue for sustainable development. Not only do “[a]lmost three quarters of all NCD deaths (28 million), and the majority of premature deaths (82%)” occur in low- to middle-income countries,” but “major gaps in the affordability and availability of basic health technologies and essential medicines” exist “particularly” in these countries. Ensuring affordability “depends heavily on the use of generic products.” The report recommends that “[c]ountries need to consider regulation of the mark-ups and fees in the pharmaceutical supply chain, not only for distributors and wholesalers but also for retail outlets.” Government failure to provide these medicines would mean that “patients are forced to obtain medicines in the private sector, where prices are generally higher and may be unaffordable for many.” The report also argues that “[t]he pharmaceutical industry has the responsibility to produce and supply medicines […] meeting appropriate standards of quality, promoting use in line with marketing approval, and providing balanced and truthful information to health-care professionals.” Donations of medicines are also recommended, so long as medicines benefit packages include essential NCD medicines. WHO held a 16 January press briefing on the report. In response to a question about what will happen to countries that do not reach the global targets, lead author Shanti Mendis said, “There will be implications for them, because their health budgets will skyrocket.” Mendis warned that, although the NCD epidemic is “seemingly invisible,” it “poses a much greater public health threat than any epidemic other known to man.” She recognised that “some progress has been made,” but stressed it is “not nearly enough in any country to attain the 2025 target.” James Côté is an intern at Intellectual Property Watch. He is completing is J.D. from the University of Ottawa. He has a deep interest in IP as it relates to business and trade. To learn more about these subjects, he has worked as part of an IP Law Clinic helping technology start-ups and as president of the uOttawa International Commercial and Trade Law Students Association. Image Credits: Justin Guariglia Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related James Cote may be reached at email@example.com."WHO Report: Access, Affordability Of Medicines Key To Reducing Non-Communicable Diseases" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.