Drug Prices and R&D

A UN Panel has called for delinking drug prices from research and development (R&D) costs.

  • The report calls for human rights to be placed over intellectual property laws and all countries must freely be able to use flexibilities granted under TRIPS to access affordable medicines.
  • The report also recognises the incoherence between the human rights and the intellectual property rules
Important recommendations made:
  • Countries that threaten generic drug makers like India for using their entitlements under the TRIPS agreement should be forced to face serious sanctions.
  • Governments should negotiate the coordination, financing and development of health technologies to aid existing models.
  • Governments should also increase current levels of investment in health technology innovation to address unmet needs.
  • WTO Members must register complaints against undue political and economic pressure which includes taking punitive measures against offending WTO Members.
  • Governments engaged in bilateral and regional trade and investment treaties should ensure that these agreements do not include provisions that interfere with their obligations to fulfil the right to health. Public health impact assessments should be undertaken, inform negotiations, and made publicly available.
  • Several United Nations agencies should collaborate with one another and with other relevant bodies with the relevant expertise to support governments to apply public-health-sensitive patentability criteria.
  • United Nations Secretary-General should establish an independent review body tasked with assessing progress on health technology innovation and access, which would monitor challenges and progress on innovation and access to health technologies under the ambit of the UN 2030 Agenda.
  • Membership of this review body should include governments, representatives from the UN and multilateral organisations, civil society, academia, and the private sector.
  • Separately, the report calls for the UN Secretary-General to establish an inter-agency taskforce on health technology innovation and access. This taskforce, operating for the duration of the SDGs, should work toward increasing coherence among United Nations entities and relevant multilateral organizations like the WTO.
  • It has also called for greater transparency in drug pricing and public health impact assessments in free trade agreements.
Access to medicines is not just a poor country problem. The high price of drugs is crippling healthcare systems across the world. Millions of people are suffering and dying because the medicines they need are too expensive. If implemented, the report’s recommendations will go a long way towards ensuring all people have access to affordable quality medicines.
Note : These recommendations can be used in all questions related to Pharma Sector or Generic drugs



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