Business Prepares for OECD Health Ministerial on Next-Gen Health Reforms

Helen Medina (USCIB)
Helen Medina (USCIB)

In the wake of the financial crisis, global health issues, such as the rising cost of medicines and the need for health reform, have risen to the top of the global agenda as policymakers struggle to insure the best quality healthcare at an affordable price. As the OECD gears up for its Health Ministerial in 2017, USCIB and the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) to the OECD are providing industry input ahead of an expected high-level declaration that will guide governments’ future health priorities.

Helen Medina, USCIB’s vice president for product policy and innovation, attended BIAC and OECD Health Committee meetings in Paris this week to prepare formal comments for the OECD Workshop on High-Cost Medicines. She also attended a BIAC strategy session on June 22 to prepare for the 2017 OECD Health Ministerial, the theme of which is “The Next Generation of Health Reforms.” At the meeting attendees discussed their work on obesity and nutrition, to be presented at an upcoming meeting OECD Health Committee secretariat.

“The OECD’s work on healthcare issues often mirrors World Health Organization priorities,” Medina said. “Because there are limited opportunities for business to engage with the WHO, our engagement with the OECD is especially important as it allows industry to provide expertise and information into the policymaking process that otherwise would not be heard.”

Participants at the BIAC Health Committee meeting agreed that with healthcare issues at the forefront of the global agenda, it is important that the OECD’s work reflects a balanced and holistic approach to dealing with healthcare challenges as the organization gears up for the Health Ministerial in January 2017. The BIAC meeting produced alignment on industry messages on the various OECD projects which could impact industry sectors such as pharmaceuticals, alcohol, beverages, and food. In addition, a task force was created to prepare for the 2017 Health Ministerial.

OECD Workshop on High-Cost Medicines

To provide input for the upcoming 2017 Health Ministerial, the OECD Health Committee organized the “Workshop on High-Cost Medicines” on June 24 to encourage dialogue between governments, experts and the industry on access to effective medicines. Attendees talked about the need to maintain the financial sustainability of health systems while also steering innovation in the pharmaceutical industry. Given that OECD governments are increasingly challenged by the expanding costs of healthcare, the workshop explained how the pharmaceutical industry’s business models impact health sector spending. Industry experts discussed how governments can encourage the right innovation in pharmaceutical care to better respond to unmet medical needs.

Business delivered the following key messages to policymakers during the workshop:

  • Innovative medicines improve patients’ lives;
  • Assessing the value of medicines requires a holistic approach;
  • Innovation requires investment in health;
  • Innovation can deliver significant patient and societal value;
  • A “whole health system” approach is needed to maximize efficiencies;
  • Multi-sectoral partnerships can help address access and affordability.


Staff Contact:   Brian Lowry

Senior VP, Innovation, Regulation, and Trade
Tel: 202.617.3159

Brian Lowry leads USCIB’s policy work on trade, health, food, agriculture, chemicals, and intellectual property. He also coordinates USCIB’s engagement in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Lowry joined USCIB in February 2021 having previously worked as an executive in the agriculture and crop science industry. Through his role as an executive, Lowry was also a longtime USCIB corporate member leader, as well as co-chair of USCIB’s working group on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Post-2015 Development Agenda. Lowry was also the first board chair of the UN Global Compact Network USA.
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