Geneva Network: Overcoming Obstacles to Medicine Access

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As member states of the World Health Organization gather next week in Geneva for the World Health Assembly, a global coalition of 29 think tanks calls on governments to commit to simple reforms that will accelerate access to medicines, including those in the process of being developed for Covid-19.

Import tariffs, sales taxes and other levies are applied by many countries on medicines and vaccines, driving up prices and reducing availability. In many countries domestic taxes can make up 20-30% of the final price people pay for medicines, the declaration notes. These should be abolished permanently.

Customs red tape should be reviewed to keep medicines crossing borders as quickly as possible, the declaration urges.

Patients wait up to seven years for new treatments while waiting for national drug regulatory authorities to approve them, even if they have already been declared safe and efficacious by a stringent regulatory authority such as from the US food and Drug Administration (FDA) or European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The declaration urges countries to reduce this duplication and speed medicines access by accepting the decisions of other regulatory authorities.

Other measures recommended include asking governments to update their national formulary lists more frequently to take account of new medicines, and an end to protectionist measures that prioritise local companies, for example during procurement. Such “localised barriers to trade” reduce the number of medicines suppliers, leading to higher prices, fewer choices and shortages.


To download the report, click here.


The declaration is endorsed by the following organizations:


  1. Adam Smith Centre, Singapore
  2. Adam Smith Institute, United Kingdom
  3. Alternate Solutions Institute, Pakistan
  4. Asociación de Consumidores Libres, Costa Rica
  5. Austrian Economic Centre
  6. Bay Area Council Economic Institute, United States
  7. Centre for Indonesian Policy Studies
  8. Competere, Italy
  9. Consumer Choice Centre, Brussels
  10. Free Market Foundation, South Africa
  11. Fundación Eléutera, Honduras
  12. Fundación IDEA, Mexico
  13. Fundación Internacional Bases, Argentina
  14. Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy, Malaysia
  15. Geneva Network, United Kingdom
  16. IMANI Centre for Policy and Education, Ghana
  17. Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, United States
  18. Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), Malaysia
  19. Instituto de Ciencia Política, Colombia
  20. Istituto per la Competitività (I-Com), Italy
  21. Instituto de Libre Empresa, Peru
  22. KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific, Malaysia
  23. Libertad y Desarrollo, Chile
  24. Libertad y Progreso, Argentina
  25. Minimal Government Thinkers, Philippines
  26. Paramadina Public Policy Institute, Indonesia
  27. PRIME Institute, Pakistan
  28. Property Rights Alliance, United States
  29. Technology Application Unit, Pakistan


The views expressed on austriancenter.com are not necessarily those of the Austrian Economics Center.

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