MPP’s statements at the 74th World Health Assembly
31 May 2021
Item 13.3: Expanding access to effective treatments for cancer and rare and orphan diseases, including medicines, vaccines, medical devices, diagnostics, assistive products, cell- and gene-based therapies and other health technologies; and improving the transparency of markets for medicines, vaccines, and other health products
Speaker: Giulia Segafredo
The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) reaffirms its strong commitment to accelerating the availability of essential treatments for cancer and to identify sustainable access models in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Affordability of new breakthrough cancer treatments in LMICs is still a major challenge in LMICs, including for some that are included in the World Health Organization (WHO) Model List of Essential Medicines (EML).
We also note that several new cancer medicines have been submitted for possible inclusion in the EML during its next revision in June. Some are medicines that could provide significant clinical benefit to cancer patients in LMICs. Accelerating their availability and affordability could be critical for many.
We are aware that access to cancer treatment in many LMICs faces several systemic challenges and there is a need for holistic responses that look not just at medicines, but at the range of interventions needed for proper diagnosis, treatment and care. This is why we are keen to work with WHO, member states and other stakeholders on multi-stakeholder strategies that can contribute to improving access to medicines in the context of broader initiatives.
We also think it is important to work on early identification of breakthrough therapies that can be important in LMICs, so that comprehensive access strategies can be developed early on, and not many years after such therapies have become available in the wealthiest countries, as is too often the case today.
Previous statement on this topic: the 22 January 2021 MPP statement delivered by Mila Maistat to the 148th session of the WHO Executive Board (Item 7)
Item 26.4: Global strategies and plans of action that are scheduled to expire within one year: The global health sector strategies on, respectively, HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections, for the period 2016–2021.
The proposed decision point for the Assembly reflects discussions at the Executive Board: The Board noted the report on the global health sector strategies on, respectively, HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections, for the period 2016–2021.4 In support of, inter alia, the development of global health sector strategies on these three matters for the period 2022–2030, it also adopted decision EB148(13). Agenda item 26.4 is presented as part of the Consolidated Report of the Director General and it refers to the full EB148(13) decision point.
Speaker: Mila Maistat
The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) welcomes the progress on implementation of the Global health sector strategies, which over the last 5 years became a roadmap for Member States to continue addressing the epidemics.
Since 2016, treatment scale-up has continued rapidly, with more than 25 million people receiving HIV treatment in 2019, compared to 18.2 million in 2016. The number of people starting hepatitis C treatment increased from 1.1 million in 2015 to 9.4 million treated today.
The progress on treatment uptake was supported by substantial price reductions through generic competition. For example, public-health licensing through MPP enabled 113 countries to obtain access to affordable quality-assured versions of WHO’s preferred first-line HIV regimen based on dolutegravir. Also, this week we announced that one million quality-assured curative treatments for HCV had been supplied to 34 countries by MPP licensees.
WHO support remains critical for Member States to fill in the remaining gaps and address the newly emerging challenges. Updated strategies are essential to ensure timely country support to achieve the 2030 goals to end the epidemics.
MPP stands ready to continue supporting WHO, Member States and other stakeholders in developing and implementing the new strategies, by facilitating access to innovative products, such as long-acting formulations, be it for prevention or treatment.
Item 13.4: Global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property
Speaker: Mila Maistat
The Medicines Patent Pool welcomes the draft resolution on local production.
As a public health organisation devoted to public health licensing, we reaffirm our commitment to geographically diversify our network of manufacturing partners, which currently includes 21 generics across five countries. We have started mapping out firms with established good manufacturing practice capacity and invite Member States to introduce us to additional manufacturers with proven quality processes and accreditations.
Besides our work on licensing patents, we are available to also explore the feasibility of setting up public-health oriented licensing of technology and know-how transfer agreements with the goal of supporting the development of local or regional production capacity of targeted, highly needed, public health priority health technologies, including for COVID-19.
We believe in the health and economic benefits of public health licensing, based on voluntary and mutually agreed terms, in support of local production, needs-based innovation and regulatory systems strengthening. We invite our partners to work together towards establishing financially sustainable, quality-assured local production, and thereby support both health-related targets and broader developmental objectives.
Previous statement on this topic: the 22 January 2021 MPP statement delivered by Mila Maistat to the 148th session of the WHO Executive Board (Item 8)
Item 17: Public health emergencies: preparedness and response
Speaker: Magdalena Babinska
To date, nearly 1.56 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have already been distributed. However, less than 10% of people living in low and middle-income countries have been fully or partially vaccinated. And this drops to less than 1% if we take low-income countries alone.
Following the recommendation of The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, MPP stands ready to meet with WHO, the World Trade Organization (WTO), manufacturers and countries to support rapid and equitable access to vaccines for COVID-19 through licensing and technology transfer.
The inequity we are seeing with vaccines is in danger of being repeated in therapeutics currently in development, so it is crucial to begin planning for access now.
With a decade long experience in licensing and technology transfer under public health-oriented terms, the Medicines Patent Pool has proven that patented health technologies can be made rapidly available in LMICs at affordable prices. We invite innovators from all over the world to explore public health licensing either directly with MPP or through C-TAP to ensure that, in the current global health crisis, no country is left behind.
Previous statement on this topic: the Medicines Patent Pool’s statement at the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly