Monday, December 01, 2008

Two Important Resources

Last month, I was fortunate to be able to attend the 13th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Athens, Greece, where I learned about two important additions to our resources relevant to the issues discussed on Health Care Renewal, specifically to improving integrity and transparency to the manufacture, promotion, and use of pharmaceuticals.

The Medicines Transparency Alliance

Formed this year, this group seeks to bring "together at both the international and national levels, a diverse group of people with an interest in the pharmaceutical sector (stakeholders) to find ways to improve information flows, and increase transparency and accountability about the selection, regulation, procurement, sale, distribution and use of medicines in developing countries. By doing so, MeTA will improve how decisions are made about medicines, improve the way they are purchased and supplied, encourage innovative and responsible business practices, and increase the voice of patients and consumers." The Alliance will be focused mainly on developing countries, so that "when a country implements MeTA, it makes a commitment to progressively disclose a standard set of core data covering the quality, availability, price and promotion of medicines. This commitment also includes fully involving civil society, business and other stakeholders to work together to generate, disclose, debate and use these data to help address problems in the pharmaceutical market."

The Alliance has launched programs in Peru and Ghana, and plans to launch programs in Kyrgyzstan and Jordan.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Good Governance for Medicines Programme

This program has been in operation for several years, but seems to have a new and improved web-site. The site notes "Theft, extortion and abuse …the US$ 3 trillion-plus spent on health services worldwide each year are an obvious target for corruption. In fact, Transparency International estimates that 10 to 25 % of global public health procurement spending is siphoned off and stolen. Life-saving resources are being snatched away from the millions of people that need them most. The pharmaceutical sector, with its US$ 600 billion-plus global market value, is vulnerable to fraud." The goal of the programme "is to improve this situation. Guided by WHO’s Medicines Strategy 2004-2007 and launched in late 2004, the programme is raising awareness of abuse in the public pharmaceutical sector and promoting good governance. Its ultimate aim is to ensure that essential medicines reach people - not the black market."

If only there were also programs like this in developed countries.

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