Voices in the Field: Ellen ‘t Hoen

Ellen ‘t Hoen is a lawyer and public health advocate with over 30 years of experience working on pharmaceutical and intellectual property policies. She has also published widely, her latest book being “Private Patents and Public Health: Changing intellectual property rules for public health”, 2016. She currently works as an independent consultant in medicines law and policy to a number of international organisations and governments, and is completing her PhD.  As an expert in access to medicines issues, in this Voices in the Field* video ‘t Hoen provides incite into her experience of how she became involved in access to medicines. For more information about access to medicines, visit http://www.accesstomedicines.org

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The Most Common Misunderstanding About Compulsory Licences

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

The belief that a country can only use compulsory licensing in cases of public health emergencies is a myth that has proven difficult to bust.

Recently Jay Taylor, a lobbyist for Phrma, stated: “In certain instances, such as public health emergencies, trade partners may legally issue a compulsory license.” Mr Taylor references his statement with a link to the World Trade Organization’s fact sheet on compulsory licensing, which says:

Does there have to be an emergency? Not necessarily. This is a common misunderstanding. The TRIPS Agreement does not specifically list the reasons that might be used to justify compulsory licensing. However, the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health confirms that countries are free to determine the grounds for granting compulsory licences.

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Seeking a French-speaking legal researcher for short-term case study (June-July 2017)

Seeking legal research experience? Fluent in French? Interested in human rights and health?

The Laws & Policies for Universal Access to Medicines project seeks a French-speaking research assistant to research and draft one case study of laws for universal health coverage and access to medicines in a middle-income Francophone country (eg Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco…).

What does this research entail? Together with the supervisor, a focus country will be selected based on the project’s needs and your interests. Your role will be to conduct an independent in-depth search for relevant domestic legislation that governs the national health insurance and provides medicines for society’s worst-off. With guidance from the supervisor, you will retrieve and translate into English relevant legal provisions that conform with human rights principles.

What’s in it for you? You will gain legal research experience and develop your knowledge of the human right to health with the Global Health Law Groningen Research Center. You will directly contribute to the Centre’s project on Laws & Policies for Universal Access to Medicines in collaboration with WHO’s Department of Essential Medicines. Your research will result in a draft case study that will be peer-reviewed by experts and, pending approval, later published with full acknowledgment of your work.

Who should apply? This research is well suited to a law student (or person with a background in law) who is fluent in the French language. Student status is irrelevant.

What is the timeline and workload? The case study must be complete by the end of July 2017. Completing the case study is estimated to take 20 hours of work to be arranged as you wish. You do not need to be present in Groningen. This position is non-remunerated.

How to apply? Interested researchers should send a brief email to katrina.perehudoff @ gmail.com as soon as possible. Do mention any relevant experience and /or interest in this work.

More information about the project can be found here.

A New Access to Medicines Initiative: Medicines Law & Policy

By Jacquelyn Veraldi, University of Groningen, j.d.veraldi@rug.nl

This week during the WHO’s 70th World Health Assembly, GHLG member Ellen ‘t Hoen announced the launch of the new website, ‘Medicines Law & Policy’, established with colleagues Pascale Boulet and Kaitlin Mara, all experts in intellectual property and access to medicines.  ML&P provides expertise in the form of policy and legal analyses, best practice models, and other information to work toward the goal of ensuring the availability of effective, safe, and affordable medicines for all.
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Vision for sustainable access to innovative medicines: GHLG & UMCG’s Global Health Unit respond to the OECD

By: Katrina Perehudoff, Global Health Unit Department of Health Sciences, UMCG Groningen, katrina.perehudoff@gmail.com

Excessively high prices of innovative medicines threaten patient access and health system sustainability in developing and industrialised countries alike. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has launched a new initiative to facilitate high-level dialogue between stakeholders on access to innovative medicines and the sustainability of prices. On April 30, 2017, members of the GHLG Research Centre and the Global Health Unit in the Dept. of Health Sciences at the University Medical Centre Groningen responded to OECD’s online consultation for sustainable access to innovative medicines. Below are excerpts from our response.

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The Italian Exception: A personalised approach to accessing high-priced patented medicines

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

At the end of March 2017, the Italian Minister of Health Beatrice Lorenzin authorised the importation of generic medicines. She did this with only a veiled reference to the high-priced hepatitis C (HCV) medicine sofosbuvir, marketed under the trade name Sovaldi. However, the authorisation is not restricted to the treatment of HCV and can be used to find alternatives for any medicine not available or affordable in Italy.

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Monitoring needed for improving access to health care of irregular migrants

By Veelke Derckx, University of Utrecht, v.l.derckx@uu.nl

Irregular migrants face obstacles when trying to obtain health care. In order to enjoy the right to health, it is necessary to create a central reporting point to monitor actual obstacles in the access of health care of irregular migrants.

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