Tim Hubbard on Open Access to Medicines

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Tim Hubbard: Open source, the Human Genome Project and access to medicines

URL = http://www.intech.unu.edu/podcasts/20060413_hubbard_presentation.mp3


"Noting that where innovation means the difference between life and death, “society has a moral obligation to ensure the widest possible access", Tim Hubbard focused on recent developments in the field of medical research. One can now speak of a level playing field being created in certain sectors, he said, citing the multiplication of open access resources such as the Public Library of Science ( PLoS ). To secure this and ensure that all users have equal access, he identified three key facilitating roles that governments and public organizations can play: ( i ) providing high speed internet access to lower the costs of accessing data; (ii) investing more in standardization and management of available data (better databases); and (iii) establishing national centres of excellence for scientific research. He elaborated on a number of alternative proposals to fund health research and development that aim to spur innovation and lower the cost of essential medicines by de-linking innovation rewards (patents) from future sales of technology products.Under the current system, patent holders raise drug prices to offset increasing R&D, as well as marketing costs. The alternative “private model for public goods" approach, would provide billion dollar prizes for successful innovators, thus encouraging competition. A global medical treaty proposal tabled by non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders at the World Health Organization's Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH) is due to be discussed by the World Health Association in mid-2006. The proposed treaty would require each country to commit a minimum percentage of its GDP on healthcare related research and development. Countries meeting these targets would be free of Intellectual Property obligations under the World Trade Organization (TRIPS). Supporters of the fund believe that it would help reduce the barriers to access, while preventing ‘free-riding' by supporting internal research and development in all countries." (http://www.merit.unu.edu/seminars/20060413_abstracts/report.php)

Part of the United Nations University seminar, at http://www.merit.unu.edu/seminars/20060413_abstracts/report.php