WHO’s Kieny: R&D Resolution ‘An Advance That Shows Strong Recommitment’ 31/05/2016 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a 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)World Health Organization members sent a clear signal at the annual Assembly last week when they committed to step up efforts to find ways to fund research into diseases that results in affordable products, according to the top WHO official working on these issues. Marie-Paule Kieny “I think it was a strong recommitment of member states on this agenda,” Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant director-general, Health Systems and Innovation, told Intellectual Property Watch in an interview at the close of the Assembly. “Clearly they maintain their interest and they want to continue to discuss among themselves how to move forward.” The resolution, available here [pdf], was approved by the full World Health Assembly membership at the close of the 23-28 May WHA. “I think it’s an advance because coming into the Assembly after the open-ended meeting, there seems to have been a deadlock,” she said. “But clearly the discussions during the Assembly seemed to relieve this deadlock and showed again the enthusiasm and commitment of the member states for the CEWG agenda.” At issue was World Health Assembly agenda item 16.2: Follow-up to the report of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development [CEWG]: Financing and Coordination. The CEWG effort was driven by an earlier WHA resolution, 66.2. Among the steps since resolution 66.2 have been the creation of a Global Observatory on Health Research and Development, and the selection of several “demonstration projects” aimed at showing whether certain approaches could work. Last week’s WHA was preceded by an Open-Ended Meeting of Member States to Assess Progress and Continue Discussions on the Remaining Issues in Relation to Monitoring, Coordination and Financing for Health Research and Development, which took place from 2-4 May (IPW, WHO, 9 May 2016). The event was open for two days to industry, NGOs and others, but entirely closed to the press. The steps such as the observatory and demonstration projects have suffered from a lack of funding, somewhat ironic in a case where one of the aims is to show that voluntary funding for research with affordable outputs does not succeed, resulting in market failure. An underlying question is that the patent-based R&D system depends on high-priced products to recover costs. During the Assembly, some member states pointed out that prices have exceeded even developed countries’ ability to pay in recent years, and do not appear to be based on the cost of R&D but rather what the market will bear. The newly approved resolution urges governments to find sustainable funding for this process, and to set up national-level observatories for monitoring data on health R&D. And it includes a call for financing dialogues for mobilizing sufficient resources to meet the objectives of WHA66.2. “Of course it hasn’t resolved all the issues of funding,” said Kieny, “but it has indicated a way forward towards getting more funding for the demonstration projects and has reiterated very strong support for the Global Observatory.” “We will be working on this in the coming weeks in order to make progress on the observatory, set up the terms of reference for a coordination mechanism which we will present to the Executive Board, and work with member states to try to get funding for the demonstration projects. “For the observatory, we have pledges, so we can continue,” she said, noting for instance that Germany pledged 500,000 euros for the observatory during the Assembly. As to getting countries to live up to their pledges, she said, “There has been a discussion to enhance discussion with member states about funding for this agenda. So we will have to discuss with them to see … how this all plays out. They mentioned for example financial dialogues.” The new resolution also asks the WHO director general to establish an expert committee to give technical advice on prioritising health R&D. “The creation of the committee is significant because based on the observatory it will be able to show [priorities],” Kieny said. It became clear during this WHA that the CEWG process fits into a larger spectrum of efforts such as those grabbing the Assembly spotlight last week: antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and emergency response to disease outbreaks. Asked about this, Kieny said research on anti-AMR and on emergency diseases “has been something that has been started because there has been an urgent need. But all agree that the principle of the CEWG should be maintained and should be observed for the future. This is policy coherence.” 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 William New may be reached at email@example.com."WHO’s Kieny: R&D Resolution ‘An Advance That Shows Strong Recommitment’" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.