New Delhi: The World Health Organisation has vowed for maximum transparency on the pricing of medicines in order to increase access to life-saving drugs.
Drugmakers are under growing fire as a wave of new treatments for serious conditions like cancer and hepatitis C come to market at sky-high prices, putting them out of reach of many patients and national health services.
"The problem has become global," said Suzanne Hill, head of essential medicines at the World Health Organisation (WHO).
"Many of these (drugs) are now on the WHO model list of essential medicines but their high price is limiting access."
Hill was speaking after a one-day forum on fair pricing sponsored by the U.N. health agency and the Dutch government in Amsterdam.
The meeting - involving governments, industry and civil society - was convened as a first step to drawing up concrete plans on drug pricing.
WHO assistant director-general Marie-Paule Kieny said there was agreement that industry needed reasonable returns on research and development, but governments should play a stronger role in setting prices and directing the drug research agenda.
A lack of transparency on drug development costs, how prices are set and the varying amounts charged for the same medicines in different countries are all viewed as obstacles to building a fairer system.