MSF Statement on EB148/8 – Global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property
Médecins Sans Frontières welcomes the summary report EB148/10 concerning the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property. Never has this work been more important than in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite some progress in research and development (R&D), a lack of timely access to COVID-19 medical products has taken centre stage.
COVID-19 has demonstrated that intellectual property (IP) does not play an indispensable role in biomedical innovation. It is possible to accelerate R&D based on health needs with public funding even as IP continues to limit access. The ongoing process of countries seeking a temporary IP waiver for COVID-19 health technologies at the World Trade Organization provides an opportunity to explore a new approach to managing IP in a pandemic. This should be reflected in the implementation plan, and the World Health Organization should continue providing explicit institutional support to the waiver proposal.
We welcome the discussions that the Secretariat convened on price transparency and shortages, in line with the WHA73(11) decision. However, we are concerned that the summary report makes little mention of recommendation 4 of the review panel on transparency and understanding the costs of R&D. The summary report makes no mention of recommendation 28 of the review panel for “Member States to commit to dedicating at least 0.01% of their gross domestic product to basic and applied research relevant to the health needs of developing countries”.
These recommendations are too important to be sidelined. The overall lack of transparency of R&D costs and pricing and lack of accountability concerning COVID-19 medical tools once again demonstrate the urgent need for concrete follow-up.
To move these issues forward, Member States should commit the estimated $16.9 million required between 2020-2022 to fund the full implementation of the prioritised actions.