WHO: Global drug price transparency resolution

The 72nd World Health Assembly's resolution on improving the transparency of markets for medicines, vaccines, and other health-related products and other technologies was adopted on Tuesday, 28 May, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Malaysian Health Ministry welcomed this landmark resolution as it is a first step towards a more open dialogue about price transparency to improve access to medicines for the Country as well.
"This move will help strengthen our government's negotiating position and enhance our ability to obtain more affordable drugs for our people. The Ministry believes that a sustainable fairer pricing system is needed for both health systems and pharmaceutical industries," said the Director General, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham
He said the Ministry will continue its efforts to improve universal access to medicines and affordable medicines as one of the components in the National Medicines Policy, in line with its commitment to universal health coverage (UHC) that ensures universal access of medicine to the people.
However, one of the initial proponents of the resolution on requiring transparency in R&D costs was not achieved.
Third World Network legal adviser Sangeeta Shasikant said that it did not address the secrecy issues but it was a step forward towards price transparency and the WHO has a firm mandate to support member states to achieve this.
"An urgent next step is full transparency in R&D costs," she said.
Another part that was watered down, is for member states to take measures to share net prices of health products from manufacturers when the initial proposal was for prices to be shared across the supply chain.
The resolution was adopted after intense negotiations with member states to agree with the draft resolution proposed by Italy.
Malaysia is one of the initial six co-sponsoring nations, along with Greece, Serbia, Spain and Uganda.
The resolution gradually gained support from a total of 19 countries.
It urged member states to undertake measures to publicly share information on prices and reimbursement cost of medicines and improve the public reporting of the patent status information and marketing approval status, among others.
Among the countries that have disassociated themselves from the adoption of the resolution were Germany, the United Kingdom and Hungary. The United States, surprisingly, being a home to several large pharmaceutical companies, approved the resolution.
/theSTAR 29-05-2019

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Pushing for Drug Transparency

Access to medicines has long been considered a developing country issue of vaccines and basic 
medicines. But the rise in chronic diseases and expensive life-saving treatments is bringing the 
access debate to rich countries worried about the burden on healthcare budgets.  

This has become more important as Countries face the huge challenge of rare diseases and expensive treatments for diseases like cancer.

For example, in Switzerland, the cost of medicine per person has increased by 13% in just three yearsto CHF814 in 2017. The costs are largely driven by oncology and expensive combination therapies,
explained the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) at a press conference earlier this month in May2019

The FOPH estimates that nearly half of the 90 or so requests for approval last year were for 
treatments exceeding CHF100,000 ($99,097) per person per year.

Ahead of the World Health Assembly in Geneva,  towards end May 2019, an Italian draft resolution to end secrecy around drug pricing has already ruffled feathers 
among some governments and industry players.

The resolution proposed by Italy’s Minister of Health Giulia Grillo in February, 2019 urges the World Health Organization (WHO) and governments to boost transparency in four areas: drug prices, R&D costs, clinical trial data, and patent information.

Supporters of the resolution argue that transparency is essential to determine a fair price for 
medicines and ultimately make them more affordable. A recent OECD report on the industry 
reinforced this, stating that, “R&D costs and pricing structures are often opaque, raising legitimate 
questions about the value offered by some increasingly costly new treatments.”

While transparency has been discussed in global health circles for years, Swiss Global Health 
Ambassador Nora Kronig said that 
seeing transparency as a way to improve access 
to medicines is a new development.

WHO's definition of a fair drug price:

A ‘fair’ price is one that is affordable for health systems and patients and that at the same time 
provides sufficient market incentive for industry to invest in innovation and the production of 

Is there such a thing as a fair price?

What is a fair price for drugs has become the question shadowing the discussions on transparency. 

Companies have typically defended high prices by pointing to much needed investments in research 
and development. But more research from the WHO, Switzerland and elsewhere shows that prices aredisconnected from costs and that drug company profits continue to rise.

Companies like Novartis and Roche have even said that costs are not the best way to determine prices

With new gene therapy treatments that cure diseases with a single treatment, they are calling for a 
shift to a value-based model based on patient outcomes and savings to hospitals and health systems rather than cost base.

Basically value-based pricing is a strategy of the pharmaceutical industry to avoid unveiling their real investment cost as alleged by some quarters.  


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Malaysia: Universal Health Care Coverage

Malaysia plans to overcome the challenges of achieving universal health coverage (UHC), says the Minister of Health, Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

This will be through the implementation of the Enhanced Primary Health Care programme which addresses the increasing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and mental health cases.

He also said the government was committed to achieving UHC especially for the vulnerable and underserved people within the population and this would be done through the Peka B40 programme for the low income group.

Malaysia shall continue to do whatever it takes to deliver high quality healthcare to all its people, and to reach each one of them.

"UHC is about equity and access to healthcare services for all, without incurring catastrophic financial hardship," he said at the 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva on Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Dr Dzulkefly said that the 2017 Global Monitoring Report on Tracking Universal Health Coverage showed that Malaysia scored 70% in the UHC service coverage index.

However, its out of pocket (OOP) expenditure stood at 38% in 2018 although the WHO recommends that the OOP expenditure should be at around 20%

He said the government will also strengthen public-private partnership through the Health Advisory Council, which comprises eminent individuals including, but not limited to, the private medical fraternity.

"We will also address the sustainability of the existing health financing system, which is predominantly tax-based," he said.

Dr Dzulkefly said Malaysia will also enhance data quality and carry out data analytics on the available health indicators by utilising its centralised data storage system, MyHealth Data Warehouse (MyHDW).

Among the challenges that Malaysia faced in order to sustain UHC were the increasing disease burden involving communicable diseases (CDs) and NCDs, emerging ageing population and increasing workload in public facilities, said Dr Dzulkefly.

This is made more difficult with scarcity of financial and human resource which hamper efficient delivery, he added.

"Malaysia also faces continuous maintenance of health facilities, equipment and ICT infrastructure and the lack of capacity to monitor and evaluate the implementation of UHC," he said.

However, Dr Dzulkefly said that “leaving no one behind” has been the core of the government's policy-making.

The Sustainable Development Goals have been prioritized across the ministries in Malaysia and they are seriously looking at ways to help the people further.

/theSTAR 21-05-2019

Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and should be used with discretion. The Author shall not be held liable for any acts or omissions arising from the use of the information. The user will be personally liable for any damages or other liability arising hereof.

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