WHO and WTO to Host Conference on Drug Pricing for Developing Nations
The World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization will hold a meeting next month to discuss different ways to bring cheaper AIDS medicines to developing nations, the Washington Times reports. The meeting, titled "Differential Pricing and Financing of Essential Drugs," will be held April 8-11 in Hosbjor, Norway (Barber, Washington Times, 3/19). Organized by the Global Health Council and hosted by the Norwegian Foreign Affairs Ministry, the summit aims to "explore how to achieve public health objectives within the framework of WTO trade and intellectual property rules," according to a WTO statement. Specifically, the meeting will examine "the full range of obstacles" developing nations face in obtaining both patented and generic drugs. Participants will look at the projected costs of obtaining these drugs, how these costs can be met and what pricing strategies could be implemented to facilitate access to the medicines (WHO/WTO/Norwegian Foreign Affairs Ministry/Global Health Council release, 3/15). Dr. Nils Daulaire, head of the Global Health Council, said, "The world is ready to move on from squabbling about patent issues." He added that while the summit "is not aimed at undercutting pharmaceutical patents," it will try to develop a system of pricing that would allow developing nations to more easily purchase AIDS drugs (Washington Times, 3/19). The conference will also examine ways to "prevent low-priced drugs from leaking back from poor countries to rich ones" (AP/Nando Times, 3/18). A WTO official added that the summit may look at other ways to fund drug research, such as through governments and universities (Washington Times, 3/19). About 50 representatives from major pharmaceutical companies, advocacy groups, nongovernmental organizations and governments, as well as AIDS, trade policy and drug pricing experts, are expected to attend (WTO/WHO/Norwegian Foreign Affairs Ministry/Global Health Council release, 3/15). Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jon Moerland said that the conference will not produce any "binding decisions" (AP/Nando Times, 3/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.