WHO calls for investment to turn public involvement from a paper tiger into a lion’s roar

There are two reasons to read the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) report on medicines priorities published earlier this week: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2013/ageing_priority_medicines_20130716/en/

The first is for its call on pharmaceutical companies and others to reflect the needs of an ageing population in their R&D investment. It rehearses many of the concerns that are being articulated left, right and centre in medical research: a move away from disease-specific models of care and treatment; the challenges of co-morbidity etc.

The second reason is for its chapter on public and citizen involvement. It notes the value of involvement to priority setting in research and the design and development of medicines. It also notes the continued weakness in the evidence base, the need for frameworks to evaluate impact and the urgent need for greater investment into research in the field. It is a strong call of arms which includes an implicit shout for people to work together across countries to make this happen.

By remarking that our work will forever be a paper tiger without proper consideration of these challenges WHO is also saying it is time for the public involvement lion to roar. And who better to lead that than the UK.

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