Research has shown that many of the new drugs entering the European market have little to no added therapeutic value (ATV), and is therefore not necessarily better than existing treatments. Wemos’ work on medicines focuses on therapeutic advance, based on independent clinical research. We also advocate conditions for public investments in new medicines, and responsible licensing. We aim for development of medicines that address unmet medical needs.

Wemos believes that legislation should focus on the medical need of new medicines, and not merely on quality, safety and efficacy. Current legislation does not require new medicines to be better than existing medicines in order to gain access to the European market. This seems a waste of valuable research and development investments. Other than that, a considerable amount of public money is invested in the development of new medicines, often without conditions being attached once they reach the market. This public funding is therefore not contributing substantially to public health.

Wemos advocates fair medicines and ethical medicine testing

Need for unbiased research on new medicines’ added value

Clinical research that is carried out by the pharmaceutical industry is often biased. Wemos believes that research on new medicines in clinical trials should be independent. This will yield clearer results, also on the medicines’ ATV. And when new medicines are developed with public money, there should be conditions on the profits, prices and accessibility of medicines.


Critical political stance

We aim to ensure that the Dutch and European policy makers take a critical stance on medicine prices and the lack of ATV in new medicines. It is our intention that more EU Member States will support Dutch efforts to address the increasing prices of medicines and look for policy options to counter this trend. On the global level, we aim for the World Health Organization to fulfill its leading role in addressing the challenge of high drug prices worldwide, for example by proposing fair pricing models and by addressing the issue with Member States in a framework.


Ethical testing

Wemos has a track record of many years focusing on ethical clinical trials in low- and middle-income countries, and is one of the few organizations within the EU working on this topic on a policy level. One of our recent lobby successes is that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is required to submit annual reports to the European Parliament detailing its efforts to ensure that medicines intended for the European market are tested ethically. In 2017 we published a report on unethical clinical trials in Africa.


Results of our advocacy

  • Early 2018, we co-organized a meeting together with the European Parliament group of the Dutch Socialist Party (GUE/NGL) in the European Parliament on the relation between EMA and the pharmaceutical industry. Over 100 attendees were present, among whom were Members of European Parliament (MEPs), the European Commission and EMA. With fruitful discussions between experts about conflicts of interests and transparency in clinical research, the event definitely sparked the debate on how EMA should stay independent.
  • In 2017, MEPs requested EMA to address unethical practices in clinical trials in low- and middle-income countries, referring to our report on this topic. We applaud this, but following EMA Director Guido Rasi’s reply to the letter, we think the EMA can do more to protect clinical trial participants.
  • In 2017 we organized an event for Dutch politicians in the Dutch Parliament about conditioning public investments in medicines. Speakers of License to Heal, Stichting Onderzoek Multinationale Ondernemingen (SOMO), Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) and the Council for Health and Society (RVS) exchanged their views on how we can make medicines more affordable and available, especially if they are developed with public money.
  • In 2016, we called the attention of five Dutch political parties on biased research carried out by pharmaceutical companies, by inviting the Danish professor Gøtzsche to speak in the Dutch Parliament. Several political parties used his data in medicines debates with the Dutch Minister of Health.
  • In 2015, following our position paper on the lack of ATV of new medicines on the EU market, political parties discussed at our lunch meeting with the European Commission about how ATV could be incorporated in EU policy. In the same year, following our contact with European Parliamentary Commissioner Peter Liese (Christian Democrats, EPP), the European Parliament conducted a study on (possible harmonization of) ATV.
  • We have collaborated on lobbying towards the Dutch Parliament with organizations and initiatives such as Aidsfonds, Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDI), KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), Médecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) and Health Action International (HAI).

Interactive overview of the highlights of our work

You may have seen them before: the highlights of our work in 2018. But now, we want to share these with you in a clear, fresh new way. In this interactive document, we take you through important results within our programmes, the ways that we share knowledge and how we work together as a team, [...]

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This week: 72nd World Health Assembly

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Wilbert Bannenberg Wemos

19 March 1979 – the start of Wemos

Wilbert Bannenberg In early March 1979, I - Wilbert Bannenberg, an intern doctor at the time - put a notice on the bulletin board of the Faculty of Medicine at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. I was looking for other students with whom to discuss working as a doctor in low- and middle-income countries. On 19 March [...]

Our highlights of 2018

The start of the new year calls for some reflection. This is why we have compiled an overview of our highlights of 2018. We are proud of the results of our work for health for all. Have a look! 2018 was a year of new collaborations, media attention, joint letters, political support and enlarging our [...]