STOPAIDS welcomes High Level Panel on Access to Medicines report

STOPAIDS have welcomed the report of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Access to Medicines, published this week. STOPAIDS, along with a coalition of organisations have been running the Missing Medicines campaign, focused on the negative consequences of the current medical R&D model on global health. The High Level Panel report endorses our critique and proposes many of the reforms the Missing Medicines campaign has called for.

Right now the profit driven system, which relies on patent-based monopolies, leads to prohibitively high medicine prices and a lack of research into diseases of the developing world. This results in millions of avoidable deaths every year. The High Level Panel report sets out a range of actions to overcome this failure, including the creation of alternative incentives for medical innovation that de-link the cost of R&D from the price charged for medicines.

The report also recommends that pharmaceutical companies are forced to reveal details of their spending on R&D, marketing and drug production – numbers which are currently shrouded in mystery. They also criticised efforts by western governments to prevent the use of existing flexibilities in international trade and IP law (TRIPS) by developing countries which ease access to lifesaving drugs. They called for an end to this pressure, and an end to the inclusion of TRIPS-plus terms in free trade agreements.

Recognition of the significant current public investment in medical research was also flagged in the report, with a call for that investment to be reflected in the pricing and access terms agreed with any pharmaceutical company.

STOPAIDS Director Mike Podmore said;

“Yet again, a group of senior international experts has concluded what STOPAIDS and our allies have long been saying – the current system of medical R&D is failing the world, and the poor are paying for that failure with their lives.

We fully support the Panel’s recommendations and congratulate them for their leadership on this critical global challenge. Whilst the report does not go far enough in every area, the recommendations would undoubtedly result in significant steps forward in the fight for a more equitable approach. Now the UK government and governments around the world must act fast to implement them so we can begin to overcome current crises in tuberculosis and cancer care, and avert future crises in anti-microbial resistance.”