Doctors Without Borders Response to Report from UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines

Paulo Filgueiras

On September 14, The United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel (UNHLP) on Access to Medicines will publish a landmark report on promoting innovation for and access to lifesaving medical tools.

“MSF welcomes the landmark report from the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines, which puts forth actionable recommendations to help overcome the challenges that our medical teams have faced for decades – being left essentially empty-handed when the medicines, vaccines and diagnostics we need for our patients don’t exist, or are too expensive.  The report’s global scope recognizes that today all countries face challenges in ensuring availability and affordable access to the medical tools that people need to live healthy and productive lives.

MSF urges governments and industry to rapidly implement the recommendations of the High-Level Panel’s report, including demanding more transparency from pharmaceutical corporations on research and development costs and prices, breaking the link between the way research and development is funded and how much companies charge for lifesaving medical tools, and minimizing existing barriers, in particular intellectual property-backed monopolies, that undermine access to affordable medicines and vaccines. 

The report should serve as a call to action for the UN Secretary General and governments attending the UN General Assembly this week as they work to find global solutions to combat drug-resistant infections:  it’s time for governments to implement policies and incentives that will promote health-driven innovation and improve access for people in need no matter where they live.  Governments must go beyond the challenge of drug-resistant infections and make bold, broad reforms in the way medical research and development is conducted, so we can stop failing humanity on such a basic need.”

Rohit Malpani, Director of Policy and Analysis, MSF Access Campaign

Background Information:

The UNHLP’s report outlines in detail the global failure of the medical research system to develop medicines, vaccines and diagnostics that address unmet medical needs affecting communities across the globe, and puts forth recommendations aimed at making health products affordable and available to all in need.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) welcomes the panel’s recommendations on the need for new incentives for research and development, for greater transparency, as well as for strategies to deal with intellectual property barriers, all with the aim of improving medical innovation and access to health technologies.

MSF strongly urges the UN Secretary General, governments and industry to act upon these recommendations with the urgency that public health demands. 

To read MSF’s new report on the failures of the current R&D system and new ways to develop tools to better address the medical needs of people at prices they can afford, click here.