Issue brief |

MSF Expert Summary and Submission to 2009 WHA Expert Working Group

Executive Summary

Context of the EWG

The vast gaps in research and development into health tools for diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries are evident, and witnessed by MSF field teams every day.

The Expert Working Group does not take place in a vacuum. It is important that it builds on the analysis and directions given by the report of the Commission on Intellectual Property, Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH). The report introduced a re-conceptualised definition of innovation as encompassing discovery, development and delivery, thereby including access as an integral part of innovation. The Expert Group should take as its starting point this broad definition of innovation.

The EWG should assess proposals for alternative mechanisms against the World Health Assembly Resolution WHA60.30’s call for the development of proposals that address “the linkage of the cost of research and development and the price of medicines”. It is vital that the EWG take into account this inherent relationship between cost and price, and the need to overcome it and ensure access to the products of innovation.

Innovative solutions to tackle the problems created by the current dependence on intellectual property (IP) to finance R&D have been suggested in recent years and deserve to be given full attention by the Expert Working Group. They include patent pools, prize funds and proposals for a convention on R&D.

This submission will focus on the development of one alternative mechanism, a prize fund, for one area of particular need, TB diagnostics, in order to illustrate what the Expert Working Group must do to facilitate the development of new ways to finance neglected areas of medical research.