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Science for patients

Promoting the involvement of Spain’s scientific community in the discussion around access to medicines and the R&D model

01/11/2017 - 30/06/2021
Gonzalo Fanjul and Evangelina Martich
Funded by
Open Society Foundations

The current biomedical research and development model (R&D) is failing to promote access to medicines. On the one hand, there is no investment in therapeutic areas that are not profitable enough. On the other hand, innovations present exorbitant prices that are unaffordable both for the population and the health systems.
For far too long, this debate on access to medicines and the R&D model has been limited to policy makers and activist circles, while the scientific community (basic, clinical, epidemiological and other scientists) has played a role below its importance and responsibility. However, scientists have a unique expertise in this field, different from other actors and key to understanding what works and what doesn't in this critical global health issue.


The objective of this project is to help fill that gap and identify opportunities that contribute to promoting a more transparent and responsible R&D model that involves a wider spectrum of actors.

Leaflet of the Science for Patients project


A first exploratory phase

During the first stage of the project, we focused on knowing the opinion of the scientific community regarding the problem of access to medicines and the Innovation and Development model in Spain, what their expectations were on this matter and what incentives they identify. For that, we implemented an online survey and we carried out some face to face interviews
We presented the preliminary results during a 1.5 day seminar in June 2018 in Barcelona.
During the seminar, we identified experts and scientists strongly interested in continuing to work on this issue. In addition, we discussed about the need to broaden the profiles of interviewees to complement the analysis. Finally, we agreed on the need to reinforce the public debate on a more equitable R&D system in Spain.

A second more focused phase

In the second phase, we decided to adapt our strategy with the aim of establishing a closer and more focused dialogue on the issues identified in the first phase.

We therefore expanded the profile of interviewees to include:   

  • Biomedical Researchers
  • Researchers in social science, health economics and other disciplines related to innovation & development and access to medicines
  • Relevant stakeholders in research and innovation & development 

We carried out 30 semi-structured interviews. We are currently analysing the information and have carried out the first workshop of this second stage in June in Madrid.

A third phase focused on the response to COVID-19

Covid changed our context completely, but it only reinforced the relevance of this project. We decided to explore the opportunities opened by the debate on the access to vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, and its value to reconsider the fundamental principles of the pharmaceutical R&D system. Spain is just one of the countries that are highly concerned about who will control the innovations that we need (both in terms of treatments and vaccine) and what will be the consequences of that in terms of prices and access. The broader implications for poorer and highly affected regions are obvious. The materials below offer the results of this process, in a fascinating policy trip that has only started.


COVID-19 and the Reform of the Biomedical R&D System: A Proposal for a Preferred Supplier Model   What Are the Barriers to Achieving Universal Immunisation Against COVID-19?   Biomedical R&D and Innovation: How Can We Protect the Public Interest After COVID-19?

Press articles

Cuatro preguntas incómodas sobre patentes y covid-19   En la vacuna contra la covid-19, nadamos o nos hundimos juntos   Innovación, países pobres y covid-19: más allá de las patentes   ¿Una vacuna para cambiar el mundo?


Our Team


  • Gonzalo Fanjul Suarez
    Gonzalo Fanjul Suarez

ISGlobal Team