GENEVA (Reuters) – Countries at the World Health Organization agreed on Tuesday to push for clearer drug pricing, after watering down a draft resolution that would have also required pharmaceutical firms to disclose the cost of making medicines.
The deal calls on governments to share more information about the prices they pay for drugs, which can vary widely around the world and are often kept shrouded in secrecy.
It was hailed as a landmark by WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and “enthusiastically welcomed” by the United States, which had advocated making pricing clearer while allowing firms to keep their research costs secret.
However, Britain, Germany and Japan, which have healthcare systems that depend on negotiating steep discounts from drug companies to keep their costs down, said the debate had been rushed and called for the issue to be studied more closely.
An earlier draft of the text would have also given the WHO explicit powers to collect and analyze data on the costs of making and testing drugs. That wording was omitted from Tuesday’s draft.
Activists say drug companies should be obliged to disclose how much their products actually cost to design and make. Drug companies argue that such data can be a commercial secret, and that prices should be set based on a drug’s benefit to patients.
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