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Also In Global Health News: WHO Scraps Drug Development Group; Access To Medication In Philippines; Yellow Fever Vaccine Shortage; HIV-Positive Employee Protection

WHO Scraps Old Drug Development Group, Creates New One

Lancet World Report examines how “[d]isappointment over a long-awaited report on improving drug research and development for neglected diseases” led the WHO to form a new Consultative Expert Working Group (CEWG) to strategize around drug research and development. The formation of the new group comes after the report from the previous working group (EWG) was questioned due to “what some perceived to be a missed opportunity, unclear methods, a lack of transparency and signs of industry interference” and after “suspicions of impropriety” surfaced.

“EWG had met several times in person and online over the course of a year to shortlist 11 schemes – out of nearly 100 submissions – that it believed would best raise, allocate, and achieve optimum funding for research and development. With the formation of the new CEWG, all proposals are now back on the table.” The article examines several accusations against the EWG and includes comments by individuals both in favor and opposed to the decision to form the new drug development working group (Mullard, 6/19).

Drug Cost Regulation Hurts Generic Drug Industry In The Philippines

Recent price controls imposed on brand name drugs in the Philippines have “unintentionally knocked the wind out of a nascent generic-drugs industry,” the Wall Street Journal reports. As name-brand drug prices are slashed, generic drug manufacturers are forced to lower their prices as well, creating a “policy challenge” for the Philippines incoming President Benigno Aquino III. Maura Musciacco, a pharmaceutical industry analyst with Datamonitor Group, said that despite lower prices many Filipinos still find the drugs too expensive. “The Philippines’ drugs quandary reflects the problems many developing nations face when they think free markets aren’t working properly,” because leaders want to attract international investment while keeping products like medicine affordable, the newspaper writes (Hookway, 6/18).

Funding Shortage Could Reduce Supply Of Yellow Fever Vaccine

“A shortage of funds for yellow fever vaccine could result in the exclusion of people in Nigeria and Ghana from upcoming vaccination campaigns,” Xinhua reports. At a meeting in Geneva, the International Coordinating Group on Yellow Fever Vaccine Provision, which includes UNICEF, the WHO and the Red Cross, “determined that additional funds were needed to maintain the global emergency vaccine stockpile for outbreak response and to reach an additional 120 million people at risk” (6/18). “[L]ack of funding is likely to result in reallocation of available supply and reduced production” of the vaccine, UNICEF said in a press release (6/16).

U.N. Body Passes Standard To Protect HIV-Positive Employees From Discrimination

The International Labor Organization (ILO) passed the “first international standard to tackle discrimination against HIV/AIDS sufferers in the workplace,” Reuters reports. The recommendation was “overwhelmingly” passed after two years of discussion (6/17). The standard states that “no workers should be required to take an HIV test or disclose their HIV status,” and that workers “should enjoy protection of their privacy, including confidentiality related to HIV and AIDS,” according to the U.N. News Centre (6/17).