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Poor need access to cheaper drugs, says UN head

Those living in poverty need access to affordable drugs, says UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Those living in poverty need access to affordable drugs, says UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. AP Photo/Toby Talbot

OTTAWA – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s office says it hopes a new report he commissioned will help make life-saving drugs more affordable for vulnerable people.

Spokesman Matthias Gillmann tells The Canadian Press that Ban doesn’t necessarily endorse this week’s report of a high-level UN panel that calls for changes to international intellectual property rules that keep lower-priced generic drugs off the market longer.

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But he hopes it stimulates discussion at this weekend’s Global Fund conference in Montreal, which the secretary general will attend along with philanthropist Bill Gates and the Irish rock star and activist Bono.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hosting the two-day event, which seeks to raise US$13 billion to replenish the Global Fund’s fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria for the next three years.

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A spokesman for the fund, which Gates co-founded, says it wants to see greater access to lower-priced drugs to fight these preventable and deadly diseases, but stopped short of endorsing the report.

Ban’s panel on access to medicines said that despite advances in health care, gaps remain in addressing the burden of disease in many countries.

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