Clinical trials
Technical brief |

Roundtable: How Can Disclosing Clinical Trial Costs Increase Access to Medical Products?

Report cover image

A resolution on clinical trials was tabled and adopted at the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2022. While the resolution aims to strengthen the coordination of clinical trials, avoid duplication of efforts and encourage timely publication of data, it missed the opportunity to mandate reporting of clinical trial costs, including those funded by the public sector. 

However, legislation is beginning to emerge in a number of countries with a focus on disclosure of R&D costs, including in the US and Brazil. Work is also being done to define how clinical trial costs can be captured on a practical level, and what data are needed. To build on these initiatives and highlight the importance of clinical trial cost transparency for access to medical products, the MSF Access Campaign hosted a roundtable on 17 May 2022, in the week leading up to the 2022 WHA. This report summarises the themes of the discussion and makes the following recommendations: 

  • Governments should introduce legislation to mandate disclosure of clinical trial costs by pharmaceutical corporations as well as other drug developers. Costs should be published in a publicly available and accessible format. 
  • Conditions should be attached to public funding of clinical trials to ensure full public disclosure of the costs. 
  • Other mechanisms should be explored to increase transparency of clinical trial costs, including making it a requirement for market approval, as a condition for procurement, and through anti-trust authorities.    
  • The WHA clinical trial resolution and the upcoming “Best Practices document” should contain explicit requirements for public disclosure of disaggregated clinical trial costs.
  • Clinical trial cost transparency should be included in the Pandemic Treaty currently under negotiation at the WHO, within a broader chapter on transparency as it relates to pandemic response and access to health products.