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No One Funding Model Is Sufficient To Ensure Availability Of Lifesaving Drugs

“Trade deals are threatening generic drugs — we need new ways to incentivize affordable drug development,” Daniele Dionisio, head of the research project Geopolitics, Public Health and Access to Medicines (GESPAM) and a member of the European Parliament Working Group on Innovation, Access to Medicines and Poverty-Related Diseases, writes in this SciDev.Net opinion piece. “Just under three billion people live on less than $2 per day, in resource-limited countries where key medicines protected by patents are unaffordable,” he writes, adding, “Free-trade deals, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and governments adopting intellectual property (IP) policies that favor the brand pharmaceutical sector are also threatening the trade of legitimate generic medicines.”

“To ensure long-term access to medicines, the WHO has called for operational models to finance research and development (R&D) for diseases of the poor,” he continues, adding, “But any one model will not be enough to ensure the availability of lifesaving drugs.” He notes, “The WHO’s models include direct grants, equitable licensing, pooled funds, prizes and patent pools, collectively called ‘best fitting’ models,” and discusses each in detail. “A financial transaction tax (FTT), which aims to support development and health needs, is now under international debate, and has been endorsed by the E.U. Commission,” Dionisio writes, concluding, “The FTT should be introduced, enforced and implemented worldwide. It would be instrumental, alongside the models proposed by the WHO, to promoting R&D to develop medicines for diseases of the poor” (4/5).