Responding to a call from the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, and in furtherance of broadened public health objectives embodied in the Sustainable Developments Goals, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has established a High Level Panel on Access to Medicines. The Panel is Co-Chaired by Ruth Dreifuss, former President of Switzerland and Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana. The High Level Panel is made up of 16 eminent persons selected in view of their deep expertise and diverse experience on the subject matter. The Panel is supported by an Expert Advisory Group (EAG) including representatives of key multilateral organizations, NGOs, the private sector and academia.
The High Level Panel will prepare a report and recommendations for the Secretary General regarding how the international system for research and development, production and supply of medicines (including vaccines and diagnostics) can be reshaped to better achieve the goals of access and affordability. A principal focus will be on the existing framework of intellectual property (IP) protections, including those mandated by the WTO TRIPS Agreement and preferential trade agreements, and whether patent, data exclusivity and other IP policy instruments might be adjusted to better achieve the SDGs.
The High Level Panel and EAG each held its first meetings at UN Headquarters in New York (2 days and 1 day respectively) during the week of December 7, 2015 with a view toward defining objectives and working procedures, and with an emphasis on formulating a call for proposals to the global community that should be issued around December 18. After proposals have been reviewed and short-listed, the High Level Panel, with participation by the EAG, will hold several public hearings in diverse locations (web-broadcast) to obtain feedback on the proposals before formulating a final report and recommendations.
It is important to note that the High Level Panel is due to finalize and present its report to the Secretary General in June 2016 – a rather compressed timeline taking into account the urgency of the problem of access. So, those interested in submitting proposals will need to act with “thoughtful haste”!
The High Level Panel process is supported by a Secretariat drawn from staff of UNDP and UNAIDS.
High Level Panel website
Written by Frederick Abbott
Member of the Expert Advisory Group
Edward Ball Eminent Scholar Professor of International Law, Florida State University College of Law