Final Research Report Session with UAEM Korea
On Thursday 20 August, Human Asia hosted the Final Research Report Review session with UAEM Korea and our Expert Advisory Committee. Due to the spread of COVID-19, the final session was hosted online via Zoom. This year’s Advisory Committee consisted of: Professor Hye-young Kwon (Mokwon University), Professor Sylvia Park (Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs), Dr. Unni Karunakara (Yonsei University, Yale School of Public Health), and Director Seung-beom Hong (ISU Abxis).
After introducing UAEM Korea’s advocacy activities throughout 2020, the students presented their research report ‘Access to Orphan Drugs in Korea: A Blind Point in the Korean Health System’ to Human Asia and the Expert Advisory Committee. The report explored weaknesses and potential solutions for the Korean health system in delivering healthcare for rare disease patients. Through three sections - ‘Supply’, ‘Affordability’ and ‘Role of Universities’, the research report focused on how to establish a sustainable supply system of orphan drugs; how to ensure affordable prices of orphan drugs, and what the roles of domestic universities in this issue may be in the future. Unreliable supply systems and high drug prices were deemed to hinder access to orphan drugs in Korea. To improve access, the students suggested that the Korean pharmaceutical industry and government should stimulate domestic production of orphan drugs while implementing policies that relieve the economic burden on patients: through changes within RSAs to guarantee coverage within the national health system, and implementation of a future Korea Orphan Drugs Fund.
The paper reiterated that despite different people having different health needs, everyone should be guaranteed to their right to health. Therefore, although there may be potential economic incentives, the Korean pharmaceutical industry and the Korean government should shift their focus from profit alone, to meeting the health needs of the population through access to orphan drugs.
We would like to thank our Expert Advisory Committee for providing their invaluable feedback via the Zoom session, and to UAEM Korea for all their hard work in producing this high quality report. Please check Human Asia’s website soon to read the complete research report on ‘Access to Orphan Drugs in Korea: A Blind Point in the Korean Health System.