Pharmaceutical Pricing Hostages

By Ellen ‘t Hoen, Global Health Unit Department of Health Sciences, UMCG Groningen, e.f.m.t.hoen@umcg.nl

Ireland seems to be the stage of some of the most bizarre pharmaceutical company behaviour these days. This month, the pharmaceutical company CSL Behring announced it will no longer provide Respreeza (human alpha1-proteinase inhibitor), a treatment for hereditary emphysema, for free. Most of the patients that depend on the programme had volunteered to be part of the clinical trials to test the product, which was necessary to obtain a marketing authorisation for the product. CSL Behring gained such authorisation  in 2015 and priced the product at €103,768 (VAT incl.) per year’s treatment. Here you can find the cost-effectiveness evaluation by the Irish National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE). The company has now told the patients that the donation programme they depend on will come to a halt. Of course, if they pay the price or persuade the government to pay, the patients can get access to the product. This case is particularly bitter because the patients who are left out in the cold are the very people that helped the company get its marketing approval. In other walks of life, this would be called a hostage situation.

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A Reflection: Summer School Law & Lifestyle

By Dr Marie Elske Gispen, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Groningen

Most deaths that currently occur globally are the result of chronic or ‘noncommunicable’ diseases, in particular, cardiovascular diseases, most cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes. Although medical science plays an important role in reducing these diseases, law and policy are also crucial, in particular as they can ensure access to prevention, treatment, and care, and address behavioral risk factors such as smoking, excess alcohol consumption, unhealthy eating and a lack of physical exercise. Indeed, goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals is devoted to combatting and reducing by one-third all premature mortality as a result of noncommunicable diseases.

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Guilin, 2017: China Hosts Country’s First International Symposium on Global Health Law

By Yi Zhang (Eva), University of Groningen Faculty of Law, PhD Candidate, yi.zhang@rug.nl

In order to further promote the level of global health governance and encourage research in global health law, the 2017 International Symposium on Global Health Law was held in Guilin city, China from July 2nd to July 3rd, 2017. The organizer of the symposium was Central South University, China. The symposium was hosted jointly by the Institute of Medical and Health Law of Central South University, the O’Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law of Georgetown University, and the Global Health Law Research Centre of the University of Groningen (GHLG).

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The Legal Ban on Sex-Selective Abortions: a Step Backwards to Women’s Reproductive Health and Rights in Armenia

By Nikolay Hovhannisyan, University of Groningen LLM International Human Rights Law, n.hovhannisyan@student.rug.nl

 
Sex-selective abortions raise moral, legal, and social issues, reinforcing discrimination and sexist stereotypes towards women by devaluing females.[i] In countries like Armenia, where the underlying reason for sex-selective abortions is the widespread son preference, it implies the concept of valuing women only if they are able to produce sons. To tackle son preference in the country and normalize the sex-ratio, in 2016 the Government introduced a legal ban on sex-selective abortions. Whereas the harms of sex-selective abortions are severe, the question is whether such restriction is the most effective and acceptable tool in preventing the practice of sex-selective abortions from occurring and what the implications of such restriction are.

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Dolutegravir Patent Licences Can Provide Access To All

By Ellen ‘t Hoen, Global Health Unit Department of Health Sciences, UMCG Groningen, e.f.m.t.hoen@umcg.nl

This year the World Health Organization (WHO) added dolutegravir, an antiretroviral medicine for the treatment of HIV infection, to its Model List of Essential Medicines in response to the recent evidence showing the medicine’s safety, efficacy, and high barrier to resistance. A recent study HIV drug resistance report 2017 launched by the WHO at the IAS2017 shows that in 6 of the 11 countries surveyed in Africa, Asia and Latin America, over 10% of people starting antiretroviral therapy had a strain of HIV that was resistant to some of the most widely used HIV medicines. This is a worrying trend and such levels of resistance demand a review of the treatment practices including switching to more robust ARV regimen.

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Euthanasia in the Netherlands: a slippery slope?

By Brigit Toebes, Academic Director, Global Health Law Groningen Research Centre
b.c.a.toebes@rug.nl

The Dutch euthanasia legislation has been lauded as well as criticized by legal scholars and physicians in the Netherlands and abroad. The legal framework so established is renowned for setting a number of valuable due-care criteria for the physician to follow when performing euthanasia on a patient. However, is the Dutch approach traveling down a slippery slope now that euthanasia is increasingly performed on patients suffering from dementia and on patients with chronic psychiatric conditions?

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Voices in the Field: Dr Tankred Stoebe

Interview conducted  April 15th 2017 by Helena Lindemann. Photo by Barbara Sigge.

Dr Tankred Stoebe is an emergency doctor, member Stoebe-Tankred-Portrait-c-barbara-sigge.jpgof the International Board of Médecins sans Frontières (‘MSF’)  since 2015 and was President of MSF Germany from 2007-2015. This interview is published as part of the series ‘Voices in the field,’ a joint endeavour by GHLG and IFHHRO.*

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