UNSG’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines Report
Whether it’s the rising price of the EpiPen, or new outbreaks of diseases, like Ebola, Zika and yellow fever, the rising costs of health technologies and the lack of new tools to tackle health problems, like antimicrobial resistance, is a problem in rich and poor countries alike.
According to a High-Level Panel convened to advise the UN Secretary-General on improving access to medicines, the world must take bold new approaches to both health technology innovation and ensuring access so that all people can benefit from the medical advances that have dramatically improved the lives of millions around the world in the last century.
For decades, many international treaties and national constitutions have enshrined the fundamental right to health and the right to share in the benefits of scientific advancements. Yet, while the world is witnessing the immense potential of science and technology to advance health care, gaps and failures in addressing disease burdens and emerging diseases in many countries and communities remain. The misalignment between the right to health on the one hand and intellectual property and trade on the other, fuel this tension.
The UN Secretary-General established the High-Level Panel to propose solutions for addressing the incoherencies between international human rights, trade, intellectual property rights and public health objectives. The report recommendations come at the end of a ten-month process for the Panel under the leadership of Ruth Dreifuss and the former President of the Swiss Confederation and Festus Mogae, the former President of the Republic of Botswana.
“Policy incoherencies arise when legitimate economic, social and political interests and priorities are misaligned or in conflict with the right to health,” said President Ruth Dreifuss. “On the one hand, governments seek the economic benefits of increased trade. On the other, the imperative to respect patents on health technologies could, in certain instances, create obstacles to the public health objectives and the right to health.”
The Panel has formulated a set of concrete recommendations to help improve research and development of health technologies and people’s access to vital therapies that are currently priced out-of-reach of patients and governments alike. The Panel’s report points out that the cost of health technologies are putting a strain on both rich and poor countries.
Learn more from the Promoting Innovation and Access fact sheet that dives into "A New Deal to Close the Gap in Health Innovation and Access" and features the Secretary-General's recommendations.