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Progress on a new paradigm for financing research and development

Date: Tuesday 30 October 10.45–12.15
Source: Forum 11
Authors: James Love, Director, Knowledge Ecology International, USA
with Tim Hubbard, Michelle Childs, Judit Rius Sanjuan, Benjamin Krohmal, Thirukumaran Balasubramaniam and Spring Gombe


Policy-makers at the global, regional and national levels are seeking ways to create a financially sustainable basis for needs-driven, essential health research and development (R&D) that balances innovation and access.

The current system, which relies upon high prices to bolster medical R&D investments, anticipates and accepts the rationing of new medical innovations, does nothing to address the global need for public sector R&D investments, is ineffective at driving investments into important priority research projects, and when taken to extremes, is subject to a number of well-known anticompetitive practices and abuses.

High prices for medicines can no longer be seen as the primary instrument to stimulate R&D. It is abundantly clear that this does not work when basic or translational research are needed, or when patients are poor. R&D is expensive. No one wants to pay, and not everyone can pay. But someone has to pay. Our work elaborates new mechanisms for making sure that those who can pay, do.

There are several proposals for new mechanisms for stimulating R&D that do not depend upon high drug prices ­ such as prizes, open source approaches ­ which could be implemented in combination with a treaty on R&D, or soft norms for support of R&D. The unifying theme in all of these ideas is the separation of financing of innovation from paying for it, and a shift in the trade framework from high drug prices to sustainable support for R&D.

Knowledge Ecology International will discuss strategic and substantive progress in this regard.