Reasons to Support a Binding Treaty on Health R&D for Developing Countries


Indiana Bioethics

The 65th World Health Assembly of the WHO is currently considering a treaty that will fund and coordinate research for diseases affecting developing countries. The proposal was put forward by the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination (CEWG), a body created in 2010 to develop the efforts of previous committees established to consider health R&D. In a report last month, the CEWG concluded that “a binding instrument on R&D is necessary to secure appropriate funding and coordination to promote R&D needed to address the diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries and which constitute a common global responsibility” (p. 120).

Economic and moral justifications for the treaty

The economic justification provided by the CEWG frames the treaty as a response to a market failure resulting from the inability of intellectual property (IP) rights to incentivize companies to invest in drug development for diseases affecting the…

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