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Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/ Doctors Without Borders calls on CEPI to revise 'toothless' access policy

Published on 06/03/19 at 04:05pm
Image Credit: Mark Knobil

The humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has called on The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to revise their access policy, ahead of the coalition’s board meeting in Tokyo on the 7-8 March.

Established in 2017, CEPI was founded as a public-private coalition, with the aim of preventing and containing new epidemics of infectious diseases, through financing and facilitating the development of vaccines.

However MSF have called on the coalition to reconsider changes to their revised Equitable Access Policy which was adopted in December 2018.

“CEPI’s revised Equitable Access Policy constitutes an alarming step backwards for the organisation because it no longer guarantees that the vaccines CEPI funds will be made available at an affordable price,” the letter, addressed to Members of the CEPI Board, says.

“It also provides no basis for CEPI to be held accountable to its public and philanthropic investors in its agreements with development partners on the ownership and treatment of intellectual property or the pricing of CEPI-funded vaccines.”

“By replacing the previously detailed equitable access policy with only a broad statement of principle, the revised policy marks a concerning pivot away from CEPI’s early commitments to access, transparency and openness, and to breaking new ground in terms of public responsibility. It betrays the interests of everyone who invested in CEPI because they wanted to change the deadly status quo.”

In accusing CEPI of bowing to pressure from ‘industry actors’, the letter claims CEPI “immediately gave in on its founding principles and decided to revise the access policy.”

“Ultimately, the Board lacked the courage to maintain the critical safeguards built in to the original access policy. We were disappointed to learn that it was replaced by a vague, toothless and weak new policy in December 2018, disregarding our concerns and proposals, while delegating the development of more detailed, but secret, implementation guidance to the Secretariat,” the letter, signed by Dr Joanne Liu, MSF International President and Dr Els Torreele, Executive Director, MSF Access Campaign, states.

As such the letter ends in calling on CEPI board members “to reconsider this change in direction, which stands in stark contrast to the original intent of CEPI.”

“CEPI must live up to its promises to break new ground in vaccine R&D and do things differently. At a minimum, this requires the Board to step up now and reintroduce an unapologetic commitment to affordable access and transparency.”

Louis Goss

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