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Research and Development

During the last decade, increased investments in biomedical R&D led to scientific progress and unprecedented opportunities which allowed for the creation of effective and accessible tools to tackle the most urgent global health issues. Nevertheless, there are still considerable needs for new tools and health technologies to diagnose, prevent and treat poverty-related and neglected diseases.

Those diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis or sleeping sickness, can for the most part be found in the developing world and offer limited market opportunities for the pharmaceutical industry. As a result, research and development into preventive tools, diagnostic and treatments is lagging behind. In 1990, a study of the Commission on Health Research for Development already established that less than 10% of global health research resources was allocated to diseases that were affecting 90% of the poorest people. When market dynamics do not allow for new technologies and tools to be available, accessible, affordable and appropriate for those diseases, public support and international solidarity are necessary to fill the gaps.

Within this context the European Union and France have a major role to play in mobilising funding and prioritising poverty-related diseases policies in Research & Development, notably by modifying the current legislation linked to intellectual property, often responsible for very high prices of medical tools.

« It is about time that we reform our our R&D system in France and at EU level in order to guarantee that public funds fill the current funding gaps, and serve the common good instead of private profits of pharmaceutical companies. »

KEY PRINCIPLES FOR SOCIETAL IMPACT-DRIVEN R&I

In order to maximise the public return and societal impact of EU biomedical R&I policies, we recommend the introduction of a set of Access Principles in Horizon Europe, to which future beneficiaries of EU R&I funding should commit to and be guided by during the implementation of the projects. Those principles are:

  • Needs-driven: R&I priorities should be set according to priority diseases/pathogens as defined by the WHO and be set according to public health and patients’ needs, defined through transparent and inclusive priority-setting processes at national, European and global levels.
  • Equitable: allocations for R&I funding should be made on a fair and impartial basis. Attention should also be paid to neglected and underfunded areas and diseases, as well as on specific needs of disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalised groups.
  • Effective: R&I products should bring significant added therapeutic value and be delivered in appropriate forms for the contexts in which they need to be used.
  • Accessible, available and affordable: R&I should result in health technologies that are accessible and available in a timely manner and are delivered in appropriate quantities for those who need them. Such technologies should be available at a price that individuals, health systems and health providers can afford.
  • Efficient: Coordination and collaboration should be maximised in R&I to increase efficiency and avoid duplication or waste of resources. R&I should adopt Open Science principles and open knowledge approaches.
  • Public-interest driven ownership of results: Ownership and management of publicly funded R&I results should be driven by the public interest and explore various forms of IP management and licensing with this goal in mind.
  • Transparency: Further efforts are needed to ensure R&I, its funding processes and the prices of resulting technologies are made transparent. Beneficiaries receiving funding should make R&I costs, manufacturing costs, the costs of acquiring intellectual property rights, the patents landscape around drugs, the registration costs, the assessment of the economic value of the various exemptions and subsidies that benefit the private company, the real clinical benefits of the products for patients in comparison to existing therapeutic options, publicly available.

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