WHO adopts price transparency resolution

The World Health Assembly announced the adoption of a new resolution to improve the transparency of pricing for medicines, vaccines and other health products.

The resolution urges member states to publicly share information on actual prices paid by governments and other buyers for products, drugs and other pricing determinants. It also asks member states to monitor the impact of transparency on affordability and availability and perhaps the longer-term effects on overall pricing. Ultimately, the main goal is to help the general population make more informed decisions and for more affordable pricing to expand across all products and all populations.

“Assuring access to medicines is key to advancing universal health coverage,” a World Health Organization (WHO) statement said.

While previous WHO resolutions have examined particular components of transparency for health products, a recent request to examine the impact of pricing on cancer medicines, along with evidence assessments and research, were the driving forces for this latest resolution, according to a spokesperson from the WHO medicines pricing team.

“This resolution ties these aspects together to request transparency of inputs across the value chain of health products and their impact on actual prices paid,” the spokesperson told FierceHealthcare.

The resolution also calls out specifics to ensure that proficient steps toward transparency ultimately enhance the availability and affordability of health products, particularly in low- and mid-income countries and smaller markets.

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In order to make sure the goals are being reached, WHO will provide a progress report back to the assembly in 2021 that will include information on monitoring the impact of price transparency and the feasibility of web-based tools for sharing information. The assembly, along with the next Fair Pricing Forum, will allow member states to have platforms to share their progress.

While the specifics for each country were not laid out by the assembly, all member states have agreed to work toward the same goal.

“Member states must increase transparency in accordance with their national and regional legal frameworks and contexts, but the resolution promotes public sharing on net prices, inputs across the value chain, patent status information, and other relevant information to improve access,” the spokesperson said.

WHO recognizes that the U.S. has already taken big steps toward improving the transparency of markets, including public sharing of patent status via the Orange Book and results data via ClinicalTrials.gov.

“The complexity of the payer market in the U.S. may make public reporting of net prices difficult, but we are aware of the steps that HHS is already taking to improve this,” the spokesperson added.

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Transparency in the U.S. will be a group effort between government, provider and payer, notes the spokesperson. The complex payer mix in the U.S. makes government visibility on actual prices paid difficult, but WHO notes that the member state has already cooperated in moving toward these common goals.

Also new this week from the international organization, WHO announced that “burnout” is now an official medical diagnosis.

According to the International Classification of Diseases, or the ICD-11, the WHO handbook that guides medical providers in diagnosing diseases, the problem is related to employment or unemployment. Symptoms of burnout include feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism and reduced professional efficacy.

The economic impact of burnout is significant, costing the U.S. healthcare system about $4.6 billion every year, says Beth Benatti Kennedy, a leadership coach and the creator of customized training programs that focus on keeping employees resilient, engaged and productive.

“It is very important to have a clinical diagnosis because in the past my clients with burnout had to be classified under depression and although some burnout includes depression, I have seen cases where it is just exhaustion and lack of work motivation,” Benatti Kennedy told FierceHealthcare. “By having a diagnosis employees can get the medical support they need to re-enter the workplace and sometimes accommodations can be made with the support of human resources.”