Wellcome to lead efforts to deliver fair access to healthcare interventions

For the first time, Wellcome is stating its position on equitable access to healthcare interventions in a single statement. This is because we want new and improved interventions to be accessible to the people who need them most.

Around 2 billion people around the world lack access to life-changing medicines and other interventions, such as diagnostic tests, vaccines and therapies.

If the interventions we fund don’t reach the people who need them most, then we can’t fulfil our mission to improve health for everyone.

Barriers to access are complex and numerous

We believe that ensuring equitable access doesn’t need to come at the expense of continuing innovation, and vice-versa.

Intellectual property rights and commercial reward can play a part in developing and delivering interventions – but only if they are managed in a way that prioritises health benefit over profit.

The exact mechanisms for increasing access will vary between countries and regions – there is no one-size-fits-all model.

But research funders and pharmaceutical companies should use practices like voluntary licensing, patent pooling and equitable pricing to increase access.

What this means for researchers we fund

We already expect our researchers to manage their research outputs in a way that will achieve the greatest health benefit. This means making outputs widely available and publishing in open access journals.

We set out what access good practice looks like for most of our grantholders in our intellectual property and patenting, Consent and revenue sharing agreement [DOC 165KB], and open access policies.

For Innovator Awards, we negotiate specific access conditions on a case-by-case basis.

How we’ll assess if access is improving

We’ll publish an annual report on the impact of our funding policies and award conditions to encourage cross-sector discussion on what does and doesn’t work in improving access.

We want everyone to be able to know if access initiatives are effective, and how to implement them.

Our access approach will apply to all Wellcome’s activities but will focus on initiatives that will benefit people in low- or middle-income countries.

More information