Berkman Center & Harvard Global Health Institute Host Conference on Access to Medicines & Innovation

June 13, 2016

June 13, 2016 (Cambridge, Massachusetts) – Today, the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society will bring together more than sixty leaders from the pharmaceutical industry, foundations, civil society, academia, and government for a conference to develop actionable solutions for increasing access to medicines and promoting innovation to help the world’s poor. 

Despite recent advances in medicine, poor communities around the world continue to suffer disproportionately from communicable diseases. In addition to other public health challenges, drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines are often unavailable, or are sold at prices that are out of reach for the world’s poorest people. Today’s discussions will highlight best practices that can be scaled up or replicated in sustainable ways that will improve life outcomes for the poor and encourage innovation.

Under discussion today will be preliminary recommendations developed by Global Access in Action (GAIA), an initiative of the Berkman Center that seeks to develop pragmatic solutions to improve access to medicines and promote innovation. GAIA’s draft recommendations highlight intra-country differential pricing, humanitarian licensing, and improved research collaboration as strategies worthy of consideration for scale-up and replication. At the conference, participants will discuss their experimentation with these strategies, exploring the circumstances under which they could be adopted more broadly.

“Finding ways to ensure both innovation and access is critically important. The world should not have to choose between creating new treatments and ensuring that everyone can benefit from them,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute and K.T. Li Professor, Harvard School of Public Health Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. “That is the goal of GAIA and that’s what we hope this conversation will engender,” Dr. Jha added.

“Even small improvements in the incentives and policies surrounding the pricing and distribution of diagnostics, medicines, and vaccines have the potential to save numerous lives around the world,” said Quentin Palfrey, co-Director of GAIA. 

In the afternoon, participants will discuss other innovative and out-of-the-box strategies for increasing access to medicines and promoting research & development into global health challenges for which there are insufficient commercial incentives, such as Ebola and Zika.

This is the first joint conference hosted by the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Berkman Center, and the third workshop co-hosted by Global Access in Action since its inaugural meeting in 2014. GAIA is led by Professors Terry Fisher and Mark Wu of Harvard Law School, along with Quentin Palfrey of MIT.

In addition to Jha, Fisher, Wu, and Palfrey, speakers at today’s conference include: Ruth Okediji, Hieken Visiting Professor of Patent Law, Harvard Law School; Suerie Moon, Co-Chair of the Forum on Global Governance for Health, Harvard Global Health Institute; Dr. Rebecca Weintraub, Asst. Professor, Harvard Medical School; Jamie Love, Director, Knowledge Ecology International; Kevin Outterson, Professor of Law, Boston University; Thomas Bollyky, Senior Fellow for Global Health, Economics, and Development, Council on Foreign Relations; Gregg Alton, Executive Vice President, Gilead Sciences; Hans Rietveld, Director, Market Access & Capacity Building, Malaria Initiative, Novartis Pharma AG; Prashant Yadav, Director of Health Care Research, William Davidson Institute, University of Michigan; Prof. Colleen Chien, Associate Professor of Law, Santa Clara Law School; and Jami Taylor, Sr. Director of Global Access Policy, Janssen Diagnostics.  Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow will welcome participants to the conference.

Portions of the workshop can be viewed live at https://brk.mn/a2mHarvard beginning at 9:00am ET on 6/13/16. Participants will use the hashtag #a2mHarvard for tweets about the conference.  

For news and developments about Global Access in Action, please visit http://globalaccessinaction.org. If you wish to get in touch with the GAIA team, please connect with us on Twitter at @gaia_berkman or email Quentin Palfrey (gaia@cyber.harvard.edu).

About the Harvard Global Health Institute
The Harvard Global Health Institute is committed to surfacing and addressing broad challenges in public health that affect large populations around the globe.  We believe that solutions that will move the dial draw from within and beyond the medicine and public health spheres to encompass design, law, policy, and business.  We do that by harnessing the unique breadth of excellence within fields at Harvard and by being a dedicated partner and convener to organizations, governments, scholars, and committed citizens around the globe.  More information at http://globalhealth.harvard.edu/

About the Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Founded in 1997, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is dedicated to exploring, understanding, and shaping the development of the digitally-networked environment. A diverse, interdisciplinary community of scholars, practitioners, technologists, policy experts, and advocates, we seek to tackle the most important challenges of the digital age while keeping a focus on tangible real-world impact in the public interest. Our faculty, fellows, staff and affiliates conduct research, build tools and platforms, educate others, form bridges and facilitate dialogue across and among diverse communities. More information at https://cyber.harvard.edu/

Last updated

March 16, 2017