A multi-stakeholder platform to improve access to medicines in the European Region
Today, at the 72nd session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, 53 countries signed a declaration committing to identify solutions to improve access to effective, new and expensive medicines in the Region through a multi-stakeholder platform.
“This declaration is the result of 2 years of determined, inclusive and participatory work. We have engaged in meaningful consultations with all key stakeholders and partners, including the European Commission, OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development]independent experts, analysts, the private sector and civil society,” said Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, during the signing.
Member States in the WHO European Region have expressed concern over the escalating prices and budget impact of new medicines, which have restricted patient access. The market for these specialty drugs is expected to grow significantly over the next decade, providing new opportunities for patients and challenging healthcare systems. Urgent action is needed to ensure equitable access for all patients who need it, now and in the future, and to ensure the sustainability of healthcare systems.
As the collaborations developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have shown, the key to progress is working together to identify and agree on potential solutions to build solidarity and equity. Since its inception, the Oslo Medicines Initiative (IMO) has worked to bring together key players to find solutions to increase access to medicines in the European Region. The IMO recognizes that improving access to medicines requires solidarity, because unity is strength; transparency, to build trust; and sustainability, because we need ethical and sustainable health systems.
The IMO has identified an urgent need to define more clearly the social and ethical roles and responsibilities of the public and private sectors regarding research, development and affordable access to effective, new and expensive medicines. The IMO proposes that this be done through dialogue within the framework of shared responsibility and a commitment to achieve a “social contract”.
A neutral platform
Building on the work of the IMO, this platform of neutral actors will allow countries and non-state actors to jointly identify and agree on potential solutions for equitable access to medicines.
The platform, hosted and facilitated by WHO/Europe, will promote and enable direct and open discussions between non-State actors and countries to explore the feasibility of collaboration in several areas and develop concrete actions that could contribute to a new joint working method.
“WHO is in a unique position. WHO/Europe can truly act as an honest broker. We are able to bring different viewpoints and parties around a common table, work together and find common solutions,” added Dr Kluge. “The key to common solutions is dialogue. And this dialogue must take place in a safe space.
Participation will be voluntary and countries will have the opportunity to help define the terms of reference for this platform, including timing, composition, organizational approach and expected deliverables.