As an active member of the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has added its support to the EPHA response to a recent OECD consultation on access to innovative treatments.
At the initiative of the French Ministry of Health, OECD has launched an initiative to improve patient access to innovative treatments and ensure the sustainability of health spending as well as continued innovation that meets patient needs. As part of this initiative, OECD organised a stakeholder consultation which closed on 1 May, to gather experiences and ideas to inform the development of recommendations for the governments of OECD member countries.
The response highlights that access to affordable medicines is no longer a challenge for low and middle-income countries alone, but is increasingly a pertinent issue in high-income countries too. The response identifies actions in three key areas:
Pharmaceutical policy decision-making is characterised by a 'shroud of secrecy'. There is a striking lack of transparency ranging from the cost of medical research and development to the negotiations conducted by national governments when purchasing medicines.
The second issue that needs to be urgently examined is the role and impact of intellectual property-related incentives and rewards in the biomedical innovation system. Health leadership is essential and medical innovation incentives must be tied to health priorities to encourage 'meaningful innovation' for patients rather than 'profit maximisation', says the response.
Public support for Research and Development
A third issue identified for action is the role of public support for medical R&D. National governments must urgently map the different ways that drug manufacturers benefit from public support. Nowadays, citizens are paying for their medicines 'twice or even thrice' by funding research and development, by increased-co-payments, by offering significant tax breaks and incentives to companies to name just a few examples.
Follow the RCP's principal Euro advisor on twitter @PaulJBelcher for more updates and responses.