The Institute for Social medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics (Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin), IPPNW Germany, and HAI-Europe offered a one-week full-time course in Global Health Challenges in general and the role of pharmaceutical industries in particular, followed by a one-day conference and a campaign skills lan.
A number of social and economic factors have recently converged that are having a worrying impact on the strategies of commercial actors in medicines policy, and creating a dangerous imbalance in policy debates.
Pharmaceutical pipelines are drying up and new medicines that demonstrate any real therapeutic advantage are few and far between. As a result, originator pharmaceutical companies increasingly need to find ways to maximise profits from their existing products.
In addition, the impending 'patent-cliff' (a large-scale expiration of profitable patents on ‘blockbuster’ medicines) is driving more aggressive marketing practices, and pushing companies to adopt litigation strategies that delay or deter competition from more affordable generic medicines.
At the same time, European populations are aging fast, which will lead to greater demands on public health systems, in particular for long-term treatments for chronic diseases.
To compound the situation, these changes are all occurring against the backdrop of the global financial crisis, which has triggered major cuts in public health spending.
This development leads us to the topic of the Global Health Summer School 2013: Health, Pharma and Globalisation: A Critical View. Beside global health challenges in general we discussed access to medicine in a globalised world, rational use of medicines and the influence of pharmaceutical promotion as well as the role of politics in-between this conflicts of interests.
The summer school was be followed by a one-day conference on Saturday 21st September 2013 ("Big Pharma: Good Pharma - Bad Pharma?") and a Campaign Skills Lab.
Theoretical analysis and practical relevance determined the course of our collaborative summer school. It allows joint analysis of complex interactions between globalisation and health. The focus was on problem-based and participatory learning. Input from experts, internet based research, manuscript analysis, group work, case-studies, presentations and excursions to projects were part of the overall programme. The course was relevant not only to medical students and public health science students but also to others working within health and health systems.
The objective of the Summer School was to introduce the students to complex interactions between globalisation and health in general. Furthermore the keynote topic of 2013 "Health, Pharma and Globalisation: A Critical View" provided the basis for work during the two weeks of Summer School, Conference and Skills lab.