The third WHO Fair Pricing Forum on reaching fairer prices of medicines and health tools ended on Thursday 22 April after six days of intense conversations held virtually with over 700 participants.
The Forum this year was supported by the Government of Argentina and attended by the main stakeholders in the access to health products area, chief among them governments, civil society and the pharmaceutical industry.
Three main themes emerged from discussions
Transparency of pricing and markets for health products dominated most of the sessions as an over-arching issue. Transparency was seen as critical for informing effective government policy- and decision-making to increase access. When governments know and understand the cost of research and development and have visibility of the production and supply chain processes, they are better equipped to put a value on health products and to negotiate fairer prices.
The need for a stronger government role was also emphasized by many participants. Governments have a stake in setting the innovation agenda and should therefore engage more closely with all stakeholders, including the private sector, to align incentives for access at fairer prices throughout the full innovation cycle. This need became acutely relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the lesson learned more broadly is that continued collaboration is needed to ensure innovation addresses public health needs and is made accessible at fairer prices.
Government pricing policies, or regulatory controls, and inter-country or regional collaborations will continue to be important for achieving fair and affordable pricing and create thriving, competitive markets, especially for multisource health products.
More work is needed to accelerate access to safe and effective health products and ensure prices are affordable to health systems and patients. This includes making better use of the collective power of countries, determining the true value of health technologies, and effective regulation and legal tools to improve affordability and curb excessive pricing practices.
WHO plans to intensify actions in the area of health technologies pricing and will keep the conversation going until the next Forum in 2023 through virtual discussions and a knowledge hub that any stakeholder can join and use to reach experts and partners, and share views and information.
Later this year, WHO will launch its updated electronic tool, MEDMON, designed to monitor availability and prices of health products in countries. The tool will be open access and available to all.
WHO will continue supporting countries in the development of national or regional price monitoring systems and hosting further webinars and trainings to strengthen policy-makers’ capacity.
WHO will also continue to advocate for more affordable prices of health technologies by advising on policies and approaches to transform markets and improve health systems to provide better access to essential health products and achieve health for all.