While high prices of medicines remains a worldwide challenge, a World Health Organisation organised forum urged governments, civil society organizations and the pharmaceutical industry to identify strategies to reduce prices and expand access for all.
Estimates by WHO say that spending on out-of-pocket medicines each year push 100 million people into poverty,
“This is a global human rights issue”, said WHO Assistant Director-General for Medicines and Health Products Mariângela Simão on Saturday at the WHO Forum on Medicines in Johannesburg. “Everyone has a right to access quality healthcare”.
The forum also takes up the issue of the need for greater transparency around the cost of research, development and production of medicines, to allow buyers to negotiate more affordable prices.
Currently, health authorities in high-income countries are increasingly having to ration medicines for cancer, hepatitis C and rare diseases. Older medicines whose patents have expired, such as insulin, also still are still priced very high.
“Medical innovation has little social value if most people cannot access its benefits,” said Simão.
A 2017 WHO report showed that the cost of producing most medicines on its Essential Medicines List was a small fraction of the final price.