University Students Energise Global Campaign for Medical R&D Agreement
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
The force of hundreds of students worldwide has gathered behind an international effort urging governments to promote research and development in a way that does not result in high-priced medicines. The initiative led by Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) seeks to address the longstanding gap in affordable medicines and puts the focus on the World Health Organization, whose members are currently working on this issue.
UAEM, the international student organisation, has turned its attention to narrowing the gap in access to affordable medicines, especially those affecting developing countries, by calling for a new model for delinking the cost of R&D from prices of medical products.
Some 50 academics and scientists, including two Nobel laureates, have signed a letter, available here (with list of signatories), calling on WHO member states to “negotiate a much overdue global research and development (R&D) agreement to ensure innovation and access to affordable vaccines, medicines and life-saving technologies for all.”
The WHO has been working on this issue for years, most recently through the Consultative Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination (CEWG), but is expected to make a decision this spring.
A new report, EB138/39, has been issued by the WHO director general on the CEWG, and is available here [pdf]. The issue is on the agenda [pdf] of the 25-30 January annual meeting of the WHO Executive Board. All documents for the Executive Board meeting are available here. UAEM has been closely tracking the WHO process.
According to the director general’s CEWG report, before the next annual World Health Assembly in May, the WHO must hold an “open-ended” meeting of member states “to assess progress and continue discussions on the remaining issues in relation to monitoring, coordination and financing for health research and development.” This includes taking into account any analyses and the CEWG report.