UK Health Secretary challenged to tackle access to medicines

The Open Knowledge Foundation has written to Westminster Health Secretary Matt Hancock to demand the UK Government plays its role in addressing the global lack of access to medicines. The challenge comes after the UK disassociated itself from an international agreement aimed at reducing the cost of drugs across the world.

The resolution at the World Health Assembly was designed to improve the transparency of markets for medicines, vaccines, and other health products. It brought together countries including Brazil, Spain, Russia and India in recognition of the critical role played by health products and services innovation in bringing new treatments and value to patients and health care systems. By sharing information on the price paid for medicines and the results of clinical trials, countries can work together to negotiate fair prices on equal terms with the aim of lowering drug costs.

Catherine Stihler, chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said:

“It is shameful that the UK Government is not willing to stand in solidarity with people most at risk of illness and death because of lack of access to medicines.

We live in extraordinary times when new medical and technological advances are capable of saving millions of lives. The key to building equality for all is greater openness and transparency, and this philosophy must also be applied to healthcare.

By sharing information on the price paid for medicines and the results of clinical trials, countries can work together to negotiate fair prices on equal terms with the aim of lowering drug costs. Quite simply, openness can save lives across the world.

I urge Matt Hancock to strongly reconsider the UK’s position.”