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Submission to the United Nations Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Access to Medicines

Much of the current debate on health care goals, medical innovation and trade rules focuses on the misalignment between the need to provide incentives to innovation – mainly through a tight intellectual property (IPR) regime – and the resulting negative consequences in terms of access to medicines.

While this clash is certainly crucial, this contribution focuses on a different aspect of the misalignment between innovation and access, concerning essential drugs and generics rather than brand new, innovative drugs.

This contribution argues that the promotion of domestic drug production and innovative capabilities in low and middle income countries, and notably on the Sub-Saharan African subcontinent, can constitute an important step towards achieving significant improvements in public health – as a human right that includes access to essential medicines. We provide background and evidence for this argument. We then draw out policy implications, arguing that increased policy coherence between health policies for medicines access and public health, and industrial and trade policies for Africa-based pharmaceutical production and innovation, are both feasible and beneficial, generating synergies between improved medicines access and local industrial innovation.

The full text of the submission can be viewed online and is also available as a Open University PDF document for download.