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Governments should bring down the cost of medicines, says Oxfam

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Oxfam has welcomed a groundbreaking new report on access to medicines published this week by a High Level Panel of the United Nations and called for the UN to work with governments to implement its recommendations without delay. During the Panel’s deliberations, the US State Department and pharmaceutical industry criticized the report and expert group, politicizing the process and putting the Panel’s crucial recommendations at risk.

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, and a member of the High Level Panel that produced the report, said:

“This report gets to the heart of the problem with access to medicines – that the intellectual property rules promoted by the pharmaceutical industry are at odds with the human right to health. If implemented the report’s recommendations will go a long way towards ensuring all people have access to affordable quality medicines.

“Access to medicines is not just a poor country problem. The high price of drugs is crippling healthcare systems across the world. Millions of people are suffering and dying because the medicines they need are too expensive. The UN should work with governments to ensure the report’s recommendations are acted upon straight away.”

The panel’s recommendations include: governments begin to negotiate a new global agreement on research and development (R&D) based on the human right to health which de-links the financing of R&D from the price of products; increasing public financing for R&D; and ensuring countries have the power to protect access to affordable medicines under international trade rules and in free trade agreements.

Oxfam is calling on the UN to take further steps to explore more bold recommendations such as immediate ban on intellectual property rules in trade agreements.