Report contains positive recommendations for ensuring equitable global access to medical tools in a future pandemic
Geneva/Brussels, 12 July 2023 – Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) welcomed recommendations supportive of global access to medicines, put forth today by the European Parliament (EP) in its final report* on lessons learnt from the COVID pandemic. The EP voted to support a series of pro-access conditions to improve European Union (EU) preparedness for future pandemics and health emergencies, including in the forthcoming World Health Organization (WHO) Pandemic Treaty:
- Attach conditions to funding for medical-tool research and development (R&D) for affordability and accessibility
- Support for the use of intellectual property (IP) flexibilities, and a global waiver on intellectual property (IP) for access to essential medical tools such as vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tests (eg, TRIPS Waiver)
- Enforceable access and benefit sharing (ABS) mechanism under the WHO pandemic treaty negotiation
- Create effective mechanism governing strategic international stockpiles with ensured access for humanitarian organisations, such as through a Humanitarian Buffer
- Funding and support for technology transfer and enhancing local manufacturing capacity of medical tools to low- and middle-income countries
MSF calls on the European Commission (EC) and EU Member States to follow these recommendations to ensure global equitable access to medical tools in future pandemics.
Dimitri Eynikel, EU Policy Advisor, MSF Access Campaign
“We welcome the European Parliament’s support in ensuring global access to medical tools in a future pandemic, and urge the EU to use these recommendations as a blueprint for establishing equitable pandemic-preparedness mechanisms, including in the ongoing WHO Pandemic Treaty negotiations.
“We appreciate the repeated focus on the importance of attaching access conditions to any R&D funding provided for the development of new pandemic medical tools, as this can help to ensure the accessibility and affordability of medical products, and should be included as part of the pandemic treaty.
“We also welcome the continued support for the use of intellectual property (IP) flexibilities, and a global intellectual-property waiver: reducing patent and other restrictive barriers in producing and procuring pandemic medical tools, as was attempted with the TRIPS Waiver for COVID vaccines, treatments, and tests, would set a clear legal path to equitable global access to these lifesaving tools.
“The European Parliament’s report also recommends an enforceable access and benefit-sharing mechanism, which is welcomed, as often, developing countries and communities which contribute to the development of new medical products, such as drugs or vaccines, are not guaranteed affordable access to them. Therefore, enforcing access and benefit sharing could help to remedy this situation and ensure equity.
“In addition, the call to establish an effective mechanism governing international strategic stockpiles, including a humanitarian buffer stock, to which humanitarian organisations have ensured access is appreciated and should be included in the Pandemic Treaty.
“Also, we support the emphasis on enhancing local production of medical tools in low- and middle-income countries, as included in the recommendation to prioritise technology transfer and sharing of know-how.”
*European Parliament Report of the “Special Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic: lessons learned and recommendations for the future”