WE HAVE A SOLUTION!
Introduce alternative incentives like cash prizes
Prioritises health research according to need not profit
Fund it all through public money, from the savings made on producing cheaper medicines
What we are calling for:
We call for the creation of a new research and development (R&D) framework that is driven by global public health needs and delivers quality medicines that are universally accessible and affordable. Right now, efforts to address this problem have been scattered but this is a global problem that requires a global agreement.
The United Nations have bought together a group of experts to form the High Level Panel on Access to Medicines to address this problem. The panel heard suggestions for solutions from civil society, governments, the pharmaceutical industry and academics and are currently developing a report of recommendations that could help us transform our system of drug development for the better.
Here’s some of the suggestions for solutions:
THE PUBLIC SETS THE R&D AGENDA
Right now pharmaceutical companies prioritize medical R&D according to where they stand to make the most profit. Usually this results in companies making tiny changes to existing medicines and re-patenting them. This is like changing a few words of a song and then re-releasing it and asking for new royalties. These medicines known as ‘ME TOO’ drugs account for 75% of the drugs on the market.
We need a system where public health need sets the research agenda not profitability so that we produce medicines with the highest quality of added therapeutic value.
WE GET RID OF PATENT MONOPOLIES
Patents lead to monopolies and high prices so we need to find alternative ways to incentivize medical innovation. This can be achieved through cash prizes and grants, also known as push and pull funding. This money is awarded to organizations to kick-start the R&D process or to reward innovation (respectively) on the condition that anything which is produced is not patented. With no patent, other organisations can produce the same medicine and this competition will bring the price down.
This push and pull funding would come from governments. With no need to do marketing and lobbying all funding can be spent on R&D producing the best drugs possible. New money would only be required to kick start this new process, as governments would soon make their investment back from the savings they make from buying the cheaper medicines that are produced.
RESEARCH IS SHARED
Pooling research efforts is one of the most logical ways to speed up the drug development process, yet it doesn’t currently happen in a collaborative way. Under the current model initial research is almost always done by universities and is then bought up by BIG PHARMA who have the money to pay for the clinical trials and get the drug registered and on the market. The high failure rate of drugs, which contributes to the high cost, could be reduced significantly if research was done more efficiently.
This year, with the growing threat of the Zika virus, a number of governments and research institutions made an agreement to share research to help speed up the development of a treatment. This needs to be done across the board, for all disease areas. We would sae, time, money and most importantly people’s lives if we could prioritise people over profit and share our research efforts.
We propose that medical research should be open-source meaning it is open to everyone. By doing this researchers would be able to identify projects that were similar to their own allowing them to build on existing work to produce more effective health technologies.
Nobel Laureates including Joseph Stiglitz and John Sulston have publicly supported the idea now we need to get our government on board.