New sources of funding are needed to stimulate health research specifically for diseases that affect people in developing countries, according to a report released by an international expert group convened by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination (CEWG) has called for increased global commitment to funding and coordinating health research to meet the specific needs of developing countries. The group proposes a package of changes that includes utilizing open knowledge innovation and prizes as incentives, mandatory government commitments, pooling of funding and an international binding convention on global health research.
“Intellectual property rights and sales do not provide enough incentive to encourage investment on diseases that mainly affect people in developing countries,” says John-Arne Røttingen, CEWG chair. “If the price of health products continues to reflect the full cost of R&D products will never be affordable for those that need them most. We therefore need to do two things: to delink the cost of research from the price of the product, and to develop mechanisms in addition to intellectual property rights to incentivize research investment in these diseases. ”
The CEWG report “Research and development to meet health needs in developing countries: strengthening global financing and coordination” includes, among others, the following recommendations: Research outputs that address health needs of developing countries should be in the public domain or made available through open licensing, patent pools should be used to increase sharing of research results.
Others include pooled funding mechanisms should coordinate financial resources and some of the funds should be used for capacity building in developing countries including direct grants to companies that can help promote technology transfer and that the WHO should play a central coordinating role in global health research.