by Katrina Perehudoff, Brigit Toebes & Hans Hogerzeil
Bull World Health Organ 2016;94:935–936
Hot public debate and the growing trend of patients seeking access to expensive, non-reimbursed medicines through domestic courts raises the question: How can governments with finite public health budgets ensure fair access to these medicines as part of the right to health? The authors argue that human rights law and especially the concept of progressive realisation means that while all patients have an equal right to access essential medicines, the order and timing of its fulfilment is gradual. Progressive realization justifies ranking treatments for reimbursement, with more cost-effective treatments being included first. It also supports not reimbursing treatments which are much more costly in relation to their benefit than other non-reimbursed treatments – preventing some vocal patients from ‘jumping the queue’.