WHO To Help Countries With Price Transparency, Regulation, TRIPS Flexibilities

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Dr Tedros) held a press conference yesterday to present progress made since his election last May. His office answered a follow-up question today from Intellectual Property Watch on access to medicines and how the organisation could help countries to do a better job.

WHO Director General Dr Tedros addresses journalists at the UN in Geneva yesterday. Spokesperson Fadéla Chaib is at his side.

The question, transmitted after the press briefing, was about the recent approval by the WHO Executive Board of recommendations made by an expert group reviewing the WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Heath, Innovation and Intellectual Property (GSPA). It asked in particular how the WHO would be implementing the recommendation that it provide guidance to countries on promoting and monitoring transparency in medicines prices and on implementation of pricing and reimbursement policies (IPW, WHO, 26 January 2018).

WHO spokesperson Fadéla Chaib [corrected – note: the reply did not come from Dr Tedros but from the technical department] told Intellectual Property Watch: “A population’s full access to quality medicines is a cornerstone of the right to health and UHC. WHO will support countries to reach full access and UHC [universal health coverage] by providing policy support for: national price regulation and price negotiations; promoting pricing transparency; and full use of TRIPS flexibilities [flexibilities to IP rights included in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights].

“WHO will continue to advise countries on pricing policies by using its guidance as a basis,”  she said, referring to the WHO Guideline on Country Pharmaceutical Pricing Policies [pdf], “and on the implementation of these policies.”

“We will also reinforce work on medicines pricing information sources from around the world on the website,” she said.