Towards Access 2030. (Essential Medicines for Universal Health Coverage - Comment. The Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines Policies)
(2016; 2 pages)

The Lancet: http://www.thelancet.com/commissions/essential-medicines

Abstract

The Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines Policies identifies five areas as crucial to ensure access to medicines for 2030: "paying for a basket of essential medicines, making essential medicines affordable, assuring the quality and safety of medicines, promoting quality use of medicines, and developing missing essential medicines". These are issues that WHO has promoted for some time. The question, however, is whether the Commission’s recommendations—mostly aimed at governments—are sufficient to ensure progress towards universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals. The Commission estimates that between US$77·4 and $151·9 billion per year (or $13 to $25 per capita) is needed to provide a basic package of 201 essential medicines for all low-income and middle-income countries. Affordability and pricing of quality medicines is perhaps the major challenge on the path to access and this concern is what we focus on here.

What the Lancet Commission proposes for addressing this problem is a combination of policies that are clearly important. These include information systems for routine monitoring of affordability, price, and availability; implementation of a comprehensive set of existing pricing policies, including Trade related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) flexibilities, to achieve affordable prices; use of health technology assessment to define benefits packages and determine value; and increased transparency. Our concern, however, is whether these recommendations, which have featured in many WHO publications over the past years, take us far enough.

 
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