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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Access to medicines amendment of the WTO TRIPS Agreement– hype or hope?

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

On 30 January the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced the first ever amendment to the TRIPS Agreement under the headline WTO members welcome entry into force of amendment to ease access to medicines.

WTO members were celebrating and some media reported the announcement as a major breakthrough. Here is some sobering background to the announcement.

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Voices in the Field: Professor Hans Hogerzeil

Hans Hogerzeil is a Professor at the University of Groningen’s Faculty of Medical Sciences who has a rich background in the field of health and human rights that has involved hands on practice as a doctor in Ghana and India, important contributions to pharmaceutical policy development via the WHO, and a large quantity of significant academic publications. While working at the WHO,he advised over 40 developing countries, was Secretary to their Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines, and worked as Director of Essential Medicines and Pharmaceutical Policies. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh and has an honorary Doctorate of Science from the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland.

As an expert in global health, access to essential medicines, pharmaceutical policy, and human rights, Prof. Hogerzeil has much to add to the health and human rights discussion as a contributor to Voices in the Field*

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‘Equitable access to controlled medicine: between drug control and human rights in post-market access in low- and middle income countries’ – Conference report

By Marie Elske Gispen, Utrecht University, m.e.c.gispen@uu.nl

On 8 and 9 October 2015 several GHLG members participated in a symposium on ‘Equitable access to controlled medicine: between drug control and human rights in post-market access in low- and middle income countries’ (co-organized by Marie Elske Gispen, Utrecht University). Marie Elske presented the preliminary conclusions of her Ph.D. research on access to controlled medicines at this meeting. GHLG fellows Brigit Toebes and Hans Hogerzeil commented on her work from a legal and global health perspective respectively. Brigit mainly touched upon the question whether or not the normative framework of the right to health is sufficiently equipped to further access to medicine provision. Hans particularly reflected on the progress, or lack thereof, made so far in the area of access to (controlled) medicines. GHLG fellow Katrina Perehudoff joined on the second day of the symposium as participant.

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Balancing innovation and access to medicines: Considerations for a public interest derogation to patent rights in the EU

By Lisa Noort

Affordable medicines are a decisive factor in access to treatment in the European Union (EU). Drug prices are highly influenced by a medicine’s patent protection, which is argued to stimulate medical innovation to bring patients the medicines they need. In Europe, patients enjoy the right to healthcare as part of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Tension arises when the public interest demands affordable and accessible healthcare, and innovation at the same time, while the interest of the patent holder needs to be respected.

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