2011 Haq Memorial Lecture by Thomas Pogge

General info on the Haq Memorial Lectures

Speaker: Thomas Pogge
Commentator: Sakiko Fukuda-Parr
Date/location: Sept. 7th 2011, The Hague, The Netherlands
Local Organiser: 3TU.Centre for Ethics & Technology

"The Health Impact Fund as Justice-enhancing Institutional Innovation"


One-third of all human lives end in early death from poverty-related causes. Many of these premature deaths are avoidable through global health system reforms, including to the existing patent regime. The latter provides incentives for the development and distribution of new medicines; but it also leaves gaps, especially in poor regions. The Health Impact Fund (HIF) is a mechanism intended to fill these gaps and to improve access to new medicines worldwide. Funded mainly by governments, the HIF would give pharmaceutical innovators the option to be rewarded according to the incremental health impact of their product rather than through a patent-protected mark-up. The HIF would stimulate the development of high-impact medicines (especially for currently neglected diseases), would ensure that such products are available everywhere at no more than the lowest feasible cost of manufacture and would encourage innovators to market such medicines with the aim of reducing the global disease burden in the most cost-effective way. The feasibility of this reform shows that the existing medical-patent regime (TRIPS as supplemented by bilateral agreements) is severely unjust — and its imposition a human rights violation on account of the avoidable mortality and morbidity it foreseeably produces. In this talk I will (a) introduce the idea, (b) discuss its implementation, funding, and economic viability, (c) explain its advantages for firms as well as the benefits for the health and welfare of affluent and poor populations and (d) outline a moral justification of the HIF.

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