UN shows interest in medicine access issues – March 2016

In January this year the UN Secretary-General’s special panel on medicine access called for submissions on how the dilemmas of medicine discovery, supply, price and access might be resolved. The panel identified the “policy incoherence” between the rights of innovators and the universal right to health, as its central theme for discussion. This is a difficult and contentious issue, with many commentators taking very partisan stances, especially in relation to medicine prices.

My submission used the New Zealand experience as an example of a different slant on the issues, especially in relation to medicines for very rare diseases, and includes some analysis of the human rights and moral dimensions to the debate. I put emphasis on the conflict of interest that many governments have between their duty to provide for the health of their population, yet also being the funder of services and wish to keep costs down. This perspective is rarely discussed in the often heated debates about price and access, and the way these issues are dealt with in particular jurisdictions, or not, is often absent from the discussion.

Here’s my submission, posted on the website of Lysosomal Diseases New Zealand.