Shift In Discussions About R&D At This Week’s World Health Assembly 26/05/2016 by William New, 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)Public health advocates – and many nations – had high hopes that this year’s World Health Assembly could finally agree on some alternative ways to fund research and development that can lead to affordable medical products by de-linking R&D costs from prices, through the long-awaited discussion of a landmark 2012 report of a WHO expert group on medical R&D. This week, that discussion has spread across the highest profile topics of the week such as antimicrobial resistance and emergencies, but some are concerned that the public health safeguards recommended by the expert group may be being left behind. International protestors in Geneva urge governments to act on an R&D treaty At the 23-28 May World Health Assembly, there is an agenda item on this issue, but the week started with a document that is almost entirely bracketed – not agreed – and yet work on the document did not begin until this afternoon, just a day and a half before the meeting’s end. “In the 2016 World Health Assembly, the issue of lack of R&D and the market failure of high prices is coming up everywhere. This WHA is where the failures of the current R&D system are finally being recognised as global. Meanwhile, we see enormous resistance to making significant progress on the agenda item that holds the key to the solution,” Judit Rius of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) told Intellectual Property Watch. “There are ongoing efforts to narrow the scope of the CEWG and its reform ambitions.” The relevant agenda item is Item 16.2- Follow-up to the report of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination [CEWG] – Report on the open-ended meeting of Member States. The document is A69/40 [pdf]. The issue is being addressed in WHA Committee B (most Assembly agenda items are split among two committees). It came up briefly last night in order to form a drafting group that is meeting for the first time this afternoon. Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) led a protest in Geneva yesterday. Photo credit: Samik Upadhaya, UAEM A protest was held at the Palais des Nations in front of the UN yesterday. A video from the protest is available here. A key issue within this discussion is an effort to de-link the price of medical products from the cost of the R&D in order to address global market failure for drugs that do not offer sufficient return on investment. Advocates today held a press briefing urging the importance of particularly continuing work on this issue at the WHO. Despite the annual World Health Assembly’s prominence as the biggest annual health policy meeting of governments, this issue has begun to rise up in a number of other venues, such as the Group of 7 meeting this week, the G20 next September, in national and regional governments such as the United States Congress and the European Union. Advocates in today’s briefing called out Europe and the United States for delaying progress on this issue at the WHO for years. Another place the issue has come up is at the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines, which is working to finish a report on the issue as it relates to policy coherence by the end of June. Meanwhile, at this week’s WHA, issues of antimicrobial resistance and emergency response, including addressing diseases such as Zika and Ebola, have garnered enormous attention. A budget of $160 million was approved for a new operational focus of WHO on responding to emergencies. It remains to be seen whether an agreement can be reached on a resolution on CEWG at the WHA this week and what it will look like. Image Credits: Thiru Balasubramaniam, KEI, Samik Upadhaya, UAEM 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."Shift In Discussions About R&D At This Week’s World Health Assembly" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.