The pharmaceutical life cycle is underpinned by a notion of mutual benefit. Participation in clinical trials is justified by the greater good, namely developing medicines to address society's most pressing medical needs. In other words, drug development briefly equals drug availability. It would be unrealistic to state that every individual participating in a clinical trial should have direct access to all medicines this person needs on a lifelong basis for access to medicines is subject to a complex interplay of factors, which often set a resource intense or disadvantageous threshold for low- and middle income countries. Hence, especially in resource poor regions equitable access if far from reality despite the profound need for such care. The result being, millions of patients suffer in disabling conditions, which could amount to violating their human rights.

These factors include restrictive trade agreements and patent laws, malfunctioning or slowly adapting health systems, or vastly administrative and strict control procedures. These so-called general barriers principally apply to all medicines, regardless of their classification. However, to a small sub-class of medicines - controlled medicines - additional barriers apply. Controlled medicines are those medicines of which the active substance is scheduled under the international drug control treaties. These additional barriers apply exactly because of their controlled nature, including the international drug control system, which is held to lead to a major public health deficit: many patients cannot access controlled medicines because of the restrictive and prohibitive nature of drug control regulation, which in itself is held to increase the number of patients in need of controlled medicines. In 2011, the Global Commission on Drug Policy labeled the 'war on drugs' as failed and issued a call for revision.

In response to this call, Utrecht University organised the expert meeting: "Human Rights and International Drug Control: Status quo, challenges, and interdisciplinary perspective" in November 2012 in Utrecht, The Netherlands. The present symposium is a follow-up to this meeting. The set-up is to scrutinize the deficit from a multidisciplinary perspective in light of advancing post-market access in low- and middle-income countries as the equitable end-point of the pharmaceutical life cycle.

We hope to have compiled a stimulating and interesting multidisciplinary programme with ample time for discussion and debate. Please see below the draft programme.

The event is sponsored and hosted by the Brocher Foundation and co-sponsored by Utrecht University with a matching grant of the Dutch Medicines Evaluation Board. The Brocher Foundation is a Swiss private, non-profit organization supporting and encouraging multidisciplinary research into ethical, legal, and social implications of new medical developments. Its scientific board is composed of leading international experts.

The Brocher foundation will host the event at its Hermance domain: Route d’Hermance 471, Case postale 21, 1248 Hermance – Switzerland. Should you be interested in participation, please register via the Brocher website. The participation fee is 150CHF. The participation fee includes dinner on the Thursday and lunch on both days of the symposium. Please be aware that spaces are limited and financial assistance is unfortunately not available.

Should you have any further questions, please contact Ms. Marie Elske Gispen (m.e.c.gispen@uu.nl) directly.

We very much hope this event is of your interest and are looking forward to welcoming you in Hermance,
Marie Elske Gispen (UU) and Deryck Beyleveld (DU)

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