Geneva, 17 September 2020: Now more than ever, the adage “Health is Wealth” has heightened significance, with the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the delicate and essential interdependence between public health and economic prosperity. The biopharmaceutical industry is working alongside governments worldwide to combat the burden of this unprecedented crisis, recognizing that unparalleled collaboration among all sectors of society is the only way to meet this challenge. The stewardship of G20 Leaders is key to this coordinated global response, with a view to adopting policies that address the significant, intertwined impacts of the current pandemic while fostering preparedness to face similar threats in the future, as well as safeguarding resources for important healthcare needs beyond COVID-19. As the G20 Health and Finance Ministers meet on 17 September, we must be reminded that overcoming a global pandemic of this proportion rests on global solidarity, and a collective responsibility that calls for highly coordinated and collaborative action by public and private actors alike.
Since the start of the crisis, biopharmaceutical companies have shown their commitment to uniting in purpose by working together and to using their resources, technologies and know-how to develop medicines and vaccines. Beyond the discovery stage, industry has reiterated the importance of ensuring that these medicines and vaccines become accessible and affordable to all those who need them.
During this crisis, biopharmaceutical companies are:
- Investing their scientific expertise and creating and leveraging cutting edge technologies to speed the development of safe and effective medicines and vaccines;
- Conducting clinical trials to test new and existing therapies for their use in the treatment of COVID-19;
- Expanding the private sector’s unique manufacturing capabilities in an unprecedented way to respond to this crisis and making at-risk investments today to scale-up manufacturing capacity in order to provide worldwide supply as quickly as possible once successful medicines and vaccines are developed;
- Collaborating with government agencies, hospitals, doctors and others to donate supplies and medicines to help those affected around the world;
- Working with governments, manufacturers, and payers to ensure that when new medicines and vaccines are approved, they will be available and affordable for everybody who needs them;
- Ensuring that medicines and vaccines are made accessible to patients around the world by using differential pricing to account for each country’s social and economic capacities, while complying with antitrust regulations by keeping pricing policies and approaches confidential;
- Implementing strong contingency plans to ensure continuity of supply chains for medicines and other health products needed to respond to COVID-19;
- Upholding the highest standards of ethics and business integrity to improve patient care; and,
- Continuing to support the broader healthcare ecosystem and infrastructure to ensure resilience, efficiency, and sustainability of healthcare systems.
As we come together in solidarity across the public and private sector, we call on the G20 to:
- Support partnerships among industry, governments, civil society, international organizations, and academia to leverage the expertise and strength of each sector to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- View private sector as an ally and solutions partner and commit to not adopt policies and decisions that could restrict access for those in need, such as national stockpiling, or ultimately hamper innovation and research and development.
- Strengthen dialogue among industry, governments, citizens, and regional and international procurement agencies to safeguard the continuity of immunization services during the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent the resurgence of outbreak-prone vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles.
- Refrain from constraining prevention budgets for communicable and non-communicable diseases and enhance the resilience of health systems in the COVID-19 recovery phase with longer-term investment in preventative interventions across the life-course.
- Refrain from imposing trade or other policy restrictions, and work in concert in a spirit of solidarity to minimize trade disruption in medicines, vaccines, and their component parts, essential medical products, data and other goods or services needed to respond to this crisis.
- Encourage national regulatory agency collaboration and use of reliance approaches and regulatory agility for an effective and efficient response to COVID-19, as well as for the continued research, development and supply of essential medicines and vaccines.
- Ensure the highest standards of ethics and business integrity are preserved throughout and following the crisis in close coordination with the entire biopharmaceutical industry as well as the broader G20 business community, including in such areas as procurement, customs, and donations.
- Identify ways to work with the broader healthcare ecosystem and infrastructure to ensure resilience, efficiency, coordination, and sustainability of healthcare systems, so that scarce resources can continue to be allocated to what most matters to patients and society in a manner which maintains and builds public trust and confidence in healthcare systems.
- Continue to foster a policy environment which promotes research and development and effective intellectual property protection, gives impetus to innovations and advances in health, as well as incentivizes stakeholders to undertake risky investments into the discovery of new products.
- Recognize that intellectual property has enabled several medicines and vaccines currently being tested for additional use in the fight against the COVID-19 virus and has not been an impediment to the common goal of ending this pandemic.
- In view of other emerging global health threats, publish national roadmaps for the development and implementation of new economic incentives and market reforms for antibiotics over the next five years and report progress annually at G20 summits, to attract sustainable and robust investment into AMR R&D. These reforms need to properly reflect the full benefits these medicines bring to the world at large and ensure society has access to treatments for accelerating bacterial resistance.
While our focus is on COVID-19 today, the biopharmaceutical industry looks to the G20 to pave the way to a future where health systems are resilient; where partnership across public and private actors is leveraged to highlight the expertise of each sector; and where investment in health is recognized as an essential component of the sustainability of economies and societies.