How do you define what is and what is not a healthcare priority or a biomedical research priority? In its 2014 report on Priority Medicines for Europe and the WHO provides some important answers.
The report also provides hints at the reasons for such gaps – whether scientific, regulatory, market or healthcare system failures (or combination of these).
The 2013 Report Priority Medicines for Europe and the World provides a public health based medicines development agenda, based on a systematic methodology for this priority setting. It is an update of the original 2004 Report Priority Medicines for Europe and the World and takes into account changes in global health and pharmaceutical innovation since 2004 - to better address current and future patient needs.
This latest updated report analyses pharmaceutical innovation from a global public health perspective for Europe and the world, based on the principles of equity and efficiency. For this analysis, four inter-related criteria have been applied to determine priority disease areas of research:
Although a lot has been achieved in preventing or successfully treating certain diseases, with no surprise WHO prioritises conditions such as diabetes, cancer.
A gap exists for a disease or condition when: pharmaceutical treatments for that condition will soon become ineffective (e.g. due to resistance); the delivery mechanism or formulation is not appropriate for the target patient group; or when an effective medicine either does not exist or is not sufficiently effective (e.g. lack of basic scientific knowledge or lack of financial incentive due to market failure).
If there is sometimes a mismatch between priorities/unmet needs and what comes to the market, it doesn’t mean that companies are not working in these specific areas. The WHO report points at elements, which make these investments into new prevention and treatments more difficult and less successful today:
EFPIA hopes that this report will be used as a starting point for governments to set their healthcare policy priorities, which will provide more long-term certainty for the new prevention and treatments to be used once they are developed.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations’ system; experts producing health guidelines and standards, helping countries to address public health issues. WHO also supports and promotes health research. Through the WHO, governments jointly tackle global health problems and improve people’s well-being through: