73rd WHO World Health Assembly – May 2020
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) joint statement on provisional agenda item 3: COVID-19 pandemic response
WHO Member States must take five decisive steps to transform good intentions about access to COVID-19 drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines into tangible health tools in the hands of clinicians and patients:
- Ensure researchers, public health experts, civil society, and political leaders from low- and middle-income countries have a seat at the decision-making table. Research in resource-constrained settings must be accelerated and supported to identify the tools and interventions that will save lives.
- Commit to open sharing of research knowledge and data, which improves efficiency and accelerates scientific progress. R&D funding should be made conditional on results, data, promising compounds, clinical trial protocols and results, being put in the public domain.
- Guarantee that health tools are free of intellectual property restrictions, which can obstruct research and large-scale production of affordable health technologies. No new legal rights should be sought, and technology owners should either not enforce their existing IP or share it via non-exclusive licensing globally. Countries must use all legal mechanisms, including TRIPS flexibilities to ensure access.
- Act now to ensure sufficient production, equitable allocation, and affordable pricing. Additional production capacity must be created, including through technology transfer. New health tools need to be equitably allocated both between countries and within countries. Pricing must be as close as possible to cost of production, affordable for health systems, and free to those most in need.
- Require full transparency of the massive public investments into discovery and development of COVID health tools. Transparency is key to securing public trust and demonstrating accountability of governments and funding recipients.
In sum, Member States must ensure that even the poorest, most vulnerable, and those at highest risk, are guaranteed timely and equitable access to the fruits of scientific progress in this pandemic.
Read, watch, shareMSF and DNDi joint statement at WHA73: COVID-19 response > Paragraphs
On 6 February 2020, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) submitted comments to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) for its 2020 Special 301 review process, raising concerns of the public health impact of this process. The Special 301 Report hampers the ability of countries to ensure the protection of public health and promotion of access to medicines.
MSF recommends that the USTR refrain from listing countries on the Special 301 "watch lists" for making use of safeguards available under the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) Agreement to promote access to medicines.
Read, watch, shareMSF submission to USTR 2020 Special 301 Report review process > Paragraphs
WHO 146th EB -14 (EB146/15) – Global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property
72nd WHO World Health Assembly – May 2019
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) statement on agenda item 11.7: Access to medicines and vaccines, Document A72/17
Speaker: Gaelle Krikorian
MSF welcomes the road map and the holistic approach it provides for WHO’s work on access to medicines. We are here to ask Member States to take a specific step to deliver on the road map’s potential.
Exorbitant medicine prices limit MSF’s ability to provide the best possible treatment for people in our care. The same holds true for governments represented here today. This week, Member States are negotiating an important resolution on medicines transparency – covering four areas where full transparency is urgently needed: research and development (R&D) costs, clinical trial results, medicines patents, and the real prices of medicines.
This resolution could help save lives by setting strong norms and standards to help correct the unacceptable power imbalance that exists between those who need and purchase medicines – and those who produce and sell them.
Pharmaceutical corporations do not set medicine prices with the objective of ensuring access for all people in need. They set them in order to maximise profit, which leads to rationing of medicines when patients and health systems cannot afford the prices they charge. When governments sign confidentiality agreements on prices, they give companies the upper hand in price negotiations. But countries do not have to consent to being blindfolded. There are no legal barriers that mandate this damaging secrecy.
Transparency can help level the playing field and give governments the information they need to negotiate fairly and responsibly for people and their health. We ask Member States to require transparency on the prices countries pay for medicines, the mark-ups companies charge, and companies’ production costs. And governments need to know who pays what for R&D – how much investment is really covered by companies, and how much is underwritten by taxpayers and non-profit groups.
MSF urges Member States to adopt a bold and clear resolution to set strong standards that mandate transparency on medicine prices and R&D costs.
MSF Statement at the 72nd WHA: Follow-up to UN High-Level Meeting on Ending Tuberculosis (Agenda Item 11.8)
72nd WHO World Health Assembly – May 2019
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) statement on agenda item 11.8: Follow-up to the high-level meetings of the United Nations General Assembly on health-related issues: Ending tuberculosis, Document A72/20
Speaker: Khairunisa Suleiman
As the report by the Director General states, poor access to treatment for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) represents a public health crisis.
For too long, people with DR-TB have gone undiagnosed and untreated. Only one in four people with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) receive treatment, and of those, barely half are cured.
Today, Member States have an opportunity to substantially increase cure rates and avert horrible side effects associated with older, toxic drugs by switching to newer, all-oral bedaquiline-containing MDR-TB treatment regimens – recommended as the new standard by WHO.
MSF asks that Member States rapidly update national guidelines to include all-oral bedaquiline-containing MDR-TB treatment regimens and stop treating MDR-TB with painful injectable drugs. Member States should ensure that every person treated for MDR-TB receives this optimal treatment by World TB Day, March 2020.
In order to ensure the development of improved TB treatments, and ensure that new innovations are available and affordable, we ask that Member States support pro-access R&D policies and strategies.
Member States should reject TB R&D proposals that block or deter the full use of TRIPS flexibilities, including compulsory licensing, and should reject value-based pricing and tiered pricing models for TB medicines, diagnostics and vaccines, as these strategies to maximise profits needlessly inflate prices and curtail affordable access.
To save lives, the agreed-upon TB R&D core principles of affordability, efficiency, equity and collaboration must be actively safeguarded.
We ask that Member States ensure prices of TB medicines, diagnostics and vaccines are transparent, fair and affordable, and reflect public sector contributions to R&D.
We ask that Member States commit to transparency of TB R&D costs and invest in TB innovation through open-source collaborative research, prize funds and milestone payments that result in medical innovations without monopoly control.