18 November 2004 Promoting pharmaceutical innovation by shortening the development process, revamping the payment system and a varied approach to balancing research and market demands, with Europe playing the leading role, are among the findings of a groundbreaking report released by the United Nations health agency today.
The World Health Organization (WHO) study – Priority Medicines for Europe and the World – commissioned by the Dutch Government as current President of the European Union (EU), seeks to close gaps in pharmaceutical research and innovation to best address health needs and emerging threats in Europe and the world.
At present, pharmaceutical research and development are based on a market-driven incentive system relying primarily on patents and protected pricing as a prime financing mechanism. As a result, a number of health needs are left unaddressed.
“This report identifies health gaps and potential solutions,” WHO Director-General Lee Jong-wook said. “It is particularly timely for a continent where an ageing population faces increasing health problems, and for a world where old and new threats no longer respect national borders.”
The study identifies a priority list of medicines for Europe and the rest of the world, taking into account Europe’s ageing population, the increasing burden of non-communicable illnesses in developing countries and diseases which persist in spite of the availability of effective treatments.
It looks at the gaps in research and innovation for these medicines and provides specific policy recommendations on creating incentives and closing those gaps. Among its recommendations are: