Press release - Observatory for transparency in medicines policies (OTMeds) - Sunday 19 December 2021
The Observatory for Transparency in Medicines Policies (OTMeds) calls on the 2022 presidential elections candidates to position themselves in favor of waiver on patents to allow access to vaccines everywhere, and to make it a priority in their public positions. The blocking by France and by the European Commission has lasted too long. It puts us all in danger, in France and across the world.
The "TRIPS waiver" refers in the current debate to the request filed by India and South Africa in October 2020 with the World Trade Organization (WTO) for a waiver of the intellectual property rights of the TRIPS agreement, as this WTO/TRIPS agreement allows, to allow a temporary suspension of intellectual property rights on technologies developed on COVID-19 and allow their production everywhere. According to a report by researchers from AccessIBSA and Médecins sans frontières (MSF), more than 100 producers around the world are now ready to produce these mRNA vaccines. With a technology transfer, possible thanks to the contracts signed, these producers could meet the needs of the populations.
With less than 50% of the world population having received at least a first dose of COVID-19 vaccines, while the countries of the North are in the 3rd and 4th doses, the voluntary initiatives including COVAX have proved to be failures. 74% of all vaccines provided this year went to High Income Countries (HICs) and Upper Middle Income Countries (UMICs) while less than 1% of them went to low income countries. The situation cannot go on any longer.
Prime Minister Jean Castex estimated on Friday that "it is not admissible that the refusal of a few million French people to be vaccinated endangers the life of an entire country and affects the daily life of a vast majority of French people who has shown responsibility since the onset of this crisis." It is also unacceptable that the refusal of a few governments including Emmanuel Macron and Jean Castex to allow the countries of the South to produce vaccines endangering the life of an entire country and of many populations around the world. Because today Moderna and Pfizer are the only beneficiaries of this situation. No one will emerge from the pandemic without broad access to the scarce tools we have against COVID-19.
For all these reasons, OTMeds call on the 2022 presidential candidates* to position themselves in favor of this measure or to reiterate their support for it, and to make it a priority in their statements in the media. Access to one of the rare tools to get out of the crisis and hope for a "return to normal" must be an absolute priority for any candidate wishing to be elected President of the Republic in France.
*these candidates include : Emmanuel Macron, Valérie Pécresse, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Yannick Jadot, Anne Hidalgo, Christina Taubira, Fabien Roussel, Philippe Poutou
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Respectively former vice-president and former president of Act Up-Paris, Pauline Londeix and Jérôme Martin founded in June 2019 the Observatory for transparency in drug policies (OTMeds), to ensure the implementation in France of the “Resolution on Transparency”, a resolution on transparency in pharmaceutical markets passed at the World Health Assembly in May 2019.
In September 2019, OTMeds published a "transparency checklist", a document that according to us, brings together some of the essential information that must be available to the public regulator in order to assess the relevance of the price of a drug at the time of setting of its price. It has been used by several institutions. In October 2019, OTMeds proposed to French parliamentarians as well as to the government proposals for amendments and decrees so that France begins to implement at the national level the resolution on the transparency of the World Health Assembly in the framework of the social security finance bill. The Observatory obtained an amendment on the subject to be co-signed by France Insoumise and LREM, an unprecedented alliance which proves the value of the approach. Censored for formal reasons by the Constitutional Council, the amendment was adopted the following year following new work by the Observatory, as reported in this report by the World Health Organization (August 2021).
OTMeds has been invited by various institutions, research seminars, conferences in economics or intellectual property, to present our approach and the importance of the angle of transparency in preserving social protection systems. In France, we were heard by the Ministry of Europe and foreign affairs (2019), the Ministry of Health (2019), the CCNE (conseil consultatif national d'éthique) in June 2020 for its opinion n°135 on access to therapeutic innovations, by the Senate in November 2020 as part of the development of a bill creating a public drug center, by the National Assembly as part of the drug information mission, by the Institutional Review Board of the Institut Pasteur. Abroad, we were heard by parliamentarians from the German Bundestag around the Transparency resolution and the French amendment (February 2020) or the Belgian national ethics and bio-ethics council (March 2021).
We co-organized an event around the Transparency resolution and its applications with the Global Health Center in Geneva, in parallel with the World Health Assembly in May 2020. We also spoke at a session of the Fair Pricing Forum organized by the World Health Organization in April 2021.
In October 2021, we published a report for the group "The left" at the European Parliament on the possible "relocation of pharmaceutical production in Europe".
In two years, we have produced more than a hundred press releases, position papers, information notes and op-eds (Le Monde, Libération, Le Figaro, A.O.C, Domani, L'humanité, The Lancet).
Find our main media interventions at this link