ASEAN Commits to Quicker Access to Antiviral Drugs and Pandemic Influenza Vaccine
ASEAN Secretariat, 1 February 2010
ASEAN citizens stand to benefit from several initiatives to be undertaken by their Governments to ensure the availability and access to antiviral drugs and pandemic influenza vaccine, including through working with the private sector.
The region’s Ministries of Health, and the Food and Drug agencies said recently that they will jointly formulate regional policies to facilitate domestic production, importation and registration of the antiviral drugs and pandemic influenza vaccines.
Representatives of ASEAN Member States also said that they would explore the feasibility of joint procurement to reduce the costs and to secure the availability of supply,” said Mr. Dhannan Sunoto, Director of the Cross-Sectoral Cooperation Directorate of the ASEAN Secretariat. During the ASEAN Meeting on Promoting Access to Antiviral Drugs and Pandemic Influenza Vaccines held in Singapore late last week, the sharing of antiviral drugs, vaccines and other resources was also discussed by the representatives of the Member States.
Meanwhile, at the national level Member States have been encouraged to enhance partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry to promote transfer of technology and to seek the cooperation of local industries to produce the drugs and vaccines needed.
With this in mind, consultations between Governments and several international and regional pharmaceutical companies were also convened. “We are looking for win-win schemes that would allow the ASEAN people to have better and quicker access to the antiviral drugs and vaccines for pandemic influenza,” said Mr Sunoto, who expressed optimism that practical public-private partnership schemes could be explored to make the drugs and vaccines easily available in the region. Such schemes may be also open to drugs and vaccines against other infectious diseases in general.
Mr Sunoto added that further discussions will be held to explore mechanisms for joint production of the drugs and vaccines under voluntary licensing and any other arrangements to supply the drugs and vaccines locally and to other ASEAN countries.
The ASEAN Meeting on Promoting Access to Antiviral Drugs and Pandemic Influenza Vaccines was a follow-up to the Joint Statement of the ASEAN Plus Three Health Ministers Special Meeting on Influenza A (H1N1) held on 8 May 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand. It was organised by the ASEAN Secretariat, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Singapore. The Meeting was supported by the ASEAN Plus Three Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme which is funded by Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).