Joint Letter | 25 July, 2017 | Download PDF

ATTN: Mr Angel Gurría
Secretary General
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
2, rue André Pascal
75775 Paris Cedex 16

Dear Sir/Madam:

Health Action International and the endorsing organisations commend the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for taking action on the G7 health ministers’ call, led by France, to “encourage access to medicines and health care, and ensur[e] the sustainability of health systems”, following the ministerial meeting in Kobe, Japan, in December, 2016. We welcome the possibility of further engagement with the OECD as it finalises its report on sustainable access to innovative therapies.

We applaud the OECD’s analysis of the current challenges facing sustainable access to innovative therapies because it clearly acknowledges serious impediments within the current innovation system—particularly the reliance on patents and other market exclusivities, as well as approval of new products that are no better, and sometimes worse, than available treatments, which results in:

  • unaffordable high prices for the few real therapeutic innovations, which do not consistently lead to increased health benefits;
  • the worrying lack of new and effective antibiotics;
  • scarce availability of therapeutic innovations for neglected diseases; and
  • other unmet medical needs.

At the same time, however, we are concerned that the policy options presented so far by the OECD do not take the urgency and seriousness of current global health needs into account. Millions of people have no access to new biomedical innovations because they are unaffordable and unavailable. We therefore urge the OECD to include recommendations for the systematic use of TRIPS flexibilities and other measures, which would facilitate access to innovative therapies.

The current global situation demands bold and decisive steps. In coherence with its assessment, the OECD’s recommendations to member countries should extend beyond what is already in place. The Medicines Patent Pool and Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative both constitute thriving examples of novel approaches to improving access to innovative therapies. It would therefore be valuable for the OECD to recommend that member countries carry out feasibility studies to assess other delinkage mechanisms.

In addition, we are also concerned that, although civil society participated and contributed substantively to the consultation process, preferential treatment was given to other stakeholders. We therefore call on the OECD to hold another consultation meeting with civil society prior to finalising the report. In addition, civil society should be afforded the opportunity to review and offer revisions to the report before it is published.

Tim Reed, Executive Director
Health Action International
Tel: +31 20 412 4523 | Email:

Christian Wagner-Ahlfs
Managing Director, BUKO Pharma-Kampagne

Fanny Voitzwinkler
Head of the European Union Office, Global Health Advocates

Vita Dumpe
Board Chair, Health Projects for Latvia

Diarmaid McDonald
Lead Organiser, Just Treatment

Olivier Maguet
“Drug Pricing and Health Systems” Campaign Executive Officer, Medecins du Monde–France

Pierre Chirac
Prescrire Editorial Staff, Prescrire

Patrick Durisch
Health Programme Coordinator, Public Eye

Tabitha Ha
Advocacy Officer, STOPAIDS

Mariëlle Bemelmans
Director, Wemos Foundation



Mr Anthony Rottier, Executive Director, OECD

Mr Stefano Scarpetta, Director, Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, OECD

Ms Valérie Paris, Senior Health Policy Analyst / Project Leader, OECD

Ms Rabia Khan, Policy Analyst, OECD

Ms Allison Colbert, Health Policy Consultant, OECD

Mr Martin Wenzl,  Researcher, Health Division, OECD


Permanent Ambassadors to the OECD

Mr Brian Pontifex (Australia)

Marlies Stubit-Weidinger (Austria)

Mr Jean Joël Schittecatte (Belgium)

Ms Michelle d´Auray (Canada)

Ms Claudia Serrano Madrid (Chile)

Mr Peter Gandalovic (Czech Republic)

Mr Klavs A. Holm (Denmark)

Mr Alar Streimann (Estonia)

Mr Pekka Pusstinen (Finland)

Mr Pierre Dusquesne (France)

Mr Martin Hanz (Germany)

Mr George Krimpas (Greece)

Mr Zoltán Cséfalvay (Hungary)

Mr Kristján Andri Stefánsson (Iceland)

Mr Dermot Nolan (Ireland)

Mr Carmel Shama Hacohen (Israel)

Mr Alessandro Busacca (Italy)

Mr Hiroshi OE (Japan)

Mr Jong-Won YOON (Korea)

Ms Ivita Burmistre (Latvia)

Mr Paul Dühr (Luxembourg)

Mr Dionisio Pérez-Jacome (Mexico)

Mr Noé van Hulst (Netherlands)

Mr James Kember (New Zealand)

Ms Elin Østebø Johansen (Norway)

Mr Aleksander Surdej (Poland)

Mr Paulo Vizeu Pinheiro (Portugal)

Ms Irena Sodin (Slovenia)

Mr José Ignacio Wert (Spain)

Ms Annika Markovic (Sweden)

Mr Ulrich Lehner (Switzerland)

Mr Erdem Başçı (Turkey)

Mr Christopher Sharrock (United Kingdom)

Mr Rupert Schlegelmilch (European Union)