Sustainable Development Objective 3 is to “ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages”. This implies access to medicines (targets 3.8 and 3b) which is also a finance issue.
The situation of financial accessibility is getting worse for both old and new medicines. The reasons are, on the one hand, shortages of essential medicines that are not profitable, lack of research and development for neglected diseases … and, on the other hand, new overpriced molecules, exaggerated prices fixed by the pharmaceutical companies when in a monopoly situation and the explosion of social security budgets. It has reached the point when, for the first time, access is in danger even in a rich country. WHO therefore decided to establish an informal group of experts on the search for a “fair price” for medicines. This group met at the WHO headquarters in Geneva from 22 to 24 November 2016 with the aim of preparing a Forum in Amsterdam in 2017 on this issue; its work was based on preparatory documents. There is an interesting report of this meeting on the following link: http://www.who.int/medicines/access/fair_pricing/fpf_report/en/
On 11 May 2017, this Fair Pricing forum was held in Amsterdam under the aegis of the WHO. In addition to the informal group of experts, there were representatives from Member States, the pharmaceutical industry, patients and national drug distribution agencies.
Unfortunately, this lively forum has not yet led to the definition of new policies. Nevertheless, the participants accepted that a “fair price” does not mean a low price but a price that allows a reasonable return on investment for the producer without threatening the financing by social security systems and without constituting a financial barrier for the patient. They also agreed that governments should play a more prominent role in price negotiations, as well as in defining the research and development agenda and in defining systems to guide them towards the needs of global health.
The dialogue begun in Amsterdam on the issue of price and access to medicines must now continue; in the future, it will be necessary to find a common language for the discussion of the problem and the search for solutions. You can find the report of this meeting on: http://www.who.int/medicines/access/fair_pricing/fair_price_report/en/
Thank you to Rafaella Ravinetto, IMT Antwerpen, for her kind collaboration.