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BIO Statement Regarding the UN High Level Panel on Access to Medicines Report

September 14, 2016

Washington, D.C. (September 14, 2016) – Joseph Damond, Senior Vice President, International Affairs at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, released the following statement in response to today’s new United Nations High Level Panel on Access to Medicines Report:

“While we are still reviewing the full report released today by the UN High Level Panel on Access to Medicines, it is clear from an initial review that this report ignores the real issues that impact or delay delivery of innovative treatments and cures throughout the developing world, while focusing on policy recommendations in the one area – intellectual property – that would actually undermine ongoing research and development by hundreds of companies, universities and researchers.

“The Panel’s report fails to recognize the complexity around biopharma research and development and the many efforts already taking place to advance access to care. Without the innovation incentivized through strong intellectual property protections the costly and challenging work will simply not take place.

“In addition, the report fails to acknowledge a large body of evidence and research demonstrating that intellectual property is not at the heart of the access to medicines issue. First, it is important to note that while about 95 percent of essential medicines, as defined by the WHO, are off-patent, one third of the world’s population still does not have reliable access to those treatments. Moreover, for example, a January 2016 peer-reviewed study of 76 countries over a 20-year period shows that countries with strong intellectual property rights – controlling for a host of other factors – actually have better access to new medicines.

“The truth is that the ability of patients to obtain quality care depends on many factors – including health care infrastructure government policies, adequacy of funding, and presence of trained health care providers, health literacy and stigma. Addressing these barriers requires collaborative efforts and innovative solutions which are both workable in the long term and practically implementable. The innovative biopharmaceutical industry is committed to removing barriers to healthcare access throughout the world.

“The Panel should have provided the opportunity for an informed, balanced and inclusive dialogue that would make a difference to the lives of people who do not have adequate access to treatments for a wide range of reasons. Instead, they chose a narrow focus on issues that are tangential, and developed policy recommendations that are actually detrimental to research and development of new cures and treatments.”


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