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Access Denied – What happens when Big Pharma is in the driver’s seat

By 18 January 2023February 22nd, 2023No Comments


Global Health Advocates, together with STOPAIDS, commissioned a report series, exploring how a lack of transparency in the pharmaceutical industry and the European Union has harmed public health outcomes. Through legal and investigative research, the reports outline the circumstances in which COVID-19 vaccine negotiations took place and explore the level of influence Big Pharma had in EU decision-making. Together, the learnings from these reports have informed a series of recommendations that decision-makers can implement to increase transparency and protect both public health and democratic spaces.

Download the report series:
Our recommendations:


ACCESS: a clear path to medical countermeasures for all

  • The upcoming revision of the General Pharmaceutical legislation should create a more competitive environment, remove unnecessary barriers to competition and address abuses of the system and unfair practices. In particular, the EU should shorten regulatory protection periods.
  • When EU public funding is used to develop biomedical countermeasures, it must be accompanied by access conditions to guarantee the availability, affordability, and accessibility of medical products to all those in need, including to low and middle income countries.
  • In the framework of the renewal of the EU Global Health Strategy, the EU and its Member States must take concrete steps to ensure that medical countermeasures are available and accessible and affordable to all.

TRANSPARENCY to avoid corporate capture of EU processes

  • Any future preliminary negotiations held between the EC and pharmaceutical companies before contracts are signed should be conducted in a fully open and transparent manner and using established processes rather than informal channels.
  • In the future, any official document bearing redactions should list the specific exception under Art. 4 Reg. 1049/2001 (commercial or decision-making) under which it was sought for each individual redaction, rather than for the document as a whole.
  • The upcoming revision of the General Pharmaceutical legislation should include specific measures to guarantee transparency of R&D costs in its revised incentives framework in alignment with the WHO Transparency Resolution
  •  The EU should champion strong transparency norms in the framework of the proposed WHO Pandemic Accord

ACCOUNTABILITY to ensure public interest remains the priority in all agreements

  • DG HERA should abide by high standards of transparency and accountability and disclose in a timely matter all documents related to its work, including past and future contracts, minutes of meetings and R&D agendas. DG HERA should ensure meaningful consultation with all relevant stakeholders. Whilst it should take into consideration a wide variety of interests, it must ensure public interest remains the ultimate priority
  • The burden of proof demanded under Reg. 1049/2001, Art. 4, should be reversed, with companies being required to prove that withheld information would damage their commercial interests. 
  • In the case of a conflict arising between an exception provided for under Reg. 1049/2001 Art. 4 (commercial or decision-making) with the overriding public interest, the latter should prevail.

For more information, please contact Rowan Dunn, EU Advocacy Coordinator: