By Dr. Jorge Bermudez and Dr. Viroj Tangcharoensathien
Jan. 18, 2018
At the dawn of 2018, political and health leaders must seize the growing momentum and opportunities to tackle the protracted challenges of access to medicines that undermines efforts to save lives and improve health as committed under the Agenda 2030 SDG by all UN member states.
Over half of the world’s population does not have access to essential health services, 3.5 billion people are excluded from getting essential medicines; they are neither available nor affordable. The misaligned incentives are the root causes hampering access as well as research and development (R&D) of new molecules which address priority diseases.
Soaring prices of EpiPens for severe allergies, cancer and Hepatitis C treatments dominated headlines in recent years and left millions behind unable to access the treatments and vaccines they need, even among high income countries. Death tolls of preventable or treatable diseases due to lack of access to vaccines or medicines licensed in the market is ethically and politically unacceptable. Or the cost of access results in unbearable financial hardships to patients and families and impoverishes them because of large medical bills [i]. High priced medical products is a major financial burden to health insurance funds.
The scientific communities and vaccine industry had failed to develop an effective vaccine for diseases preferentially affect the poor; this was reflected by 11 thousand death tolls from Ebola epidemic in Western African countries. Despite Ebola was diagnosed since 1976; no vaccine was developed. Moreover, there have been just two new classes of antibiotics developed after 1962; though analogue development had kept pace with the emergence of resistant bacteria [ii]. The stagnation of R&D of new classes of antibiotic threatens both global human security and the human right to health; AMR will kill an estimate 10 million people every year by 2050.