News & Views

News and updates from our areas of work

TESS Submission to UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Access to Medicines

29 fév 2016 | Under Consultations, Information | Posted by

The UN Secretary General has established a High Level Panel on Access to Medicines. The Panel will explore issues that address the misalignment between the rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules and public health where it impedes the innovation of and access to health technologies. The Panel is expected report in mid-2016.

TESS Development Advisors has submitted a response to the consultation process, flagging the impact of information asymmetry in relation to market data, and how this impacts on both innovation and access to medicines. The abstract of the submission is provided below. For further information on the submission, please contact

TESS Development Advisors Submission to the High Level Panel on Access to Medicines.

Reducing Information Asymmetry: The role of market data as a contributor to focusing R&D, reducing investment risk and expanding access to medicines

This High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines focuses on law and rights. We argue that innovation of, and access to, new technologies hinges not only on trade rights and IPR but also on another factor which levels the playing field in decision making: reducing information asymmetry, notably in market data required for investments.

In 2000, the EU recognised ‘orphan’ medicinal products: medicines for rare diseases where there is little commercial incentive to develop a drug. This period also saw several product development partnerships come into being to address gaps in R&D for diseases of low-income countries. Such developments highlight the interplay between innovation, R&D and the existence of markets: ultimately leading to better access to medicines.

Development of new molecules or technologies requires several factors to be aligned: the identification or acknowledgement of medical need; scientific ability to address that need through successful R&D; the right to use or replicate technologies through appropriate trade and intellectual property legislation; willingness of investors to support the development and manufacture of new products.

One question will commonly be asked: “what is demand for this product”? Demand depends on many variables including availability, affordability and appropriateness for the targeted population. IPR and trade law clearly influence several aspects of access to medicines, including local production. But more is needed.

Gaps in market data can undermine willingness to innovate. Without answering the fundamental question of “what is the likely demand?”, the domino of other factors promoting R&D and subsequent access to medicines may never come into play.

Such data are not available in many low-income countries or for diseases such as malaria or paediatric TB. The terms of reference of this Panel recognize that “new solutions are needed to incentivise innovation and increase access to treatment”. Addressing market data gaps is one new solution to achieve that.