Open Society Foundations, Public Health Program Grant Competition

By Oliver Sylvester-Bradley on 3 Jul 2015 - 12:46

Creative Activism to expose the failures of the current drug development model

The Open Society Public Health Program is calling for letters of intent from creative campaigners in Europe—in particular Spain, Greece, and the United Kingdom—who will devise and carry out engaging public actions that challenge dominant public narratives that justify high drug prices and support the profit-maximizing model of pharmaceutical research and development (R&D).


Until recently, most people considered the price of medicines to be a problem limited to patients in low- and middle-income countries. But rising prices are threatening equitable access to treatment even in the world’s wealthiest countries. There is increasing recognition that the current private, profit-driven and patent-based model of pharmaceutical innovation isn’t achieving what it was designed for: innovation to advance public health. Growing public debate about drug prices, sparked in part by the launch of unaffordable new hepatitis C and cancer treatments, has resulted in some of the world’s wealthiest countries having to ration treatment. The lack of drugs to treat Ebola or deadly multidrug resistant bacterial infections beg the question: why do these critical medical needs remain unmet, despite significant public and private investments into pharmaceutical R&D? While the prevailing narrative is that we live in an era of unprecedented medical progress, the large majority of new medicines developed have no added therapeutic value beyond what already exists.
With health costs rising and government budgets straining, countries across Europe are grappling in unprecedented ways with the prices of medicines. We believe that now is the time and Europe is the place for bold and creative activism to shake the imagination, spark conversation, and show that a new approach is possible. Both policy makers and the public at large are either not sufficiently aware that the current way we get new medicines is overly expensive while delivering too little medical value, or they believe the current system is our only option.
We are looking for creative and courageous ideas that expose the failure of the current profit-based model of pharmaceutical R&D, and highlight the need for an alternative approach. Actions may include public stunts, or short-term campaigns, and more—we want you to bring your creativity and experience to bear.


Interested applications should send their letters of intent of no more than three pages by July 20, 2015 to Azzi Momenghalibaf:

We welcome proposals from networks or coalitions, as well as individual organizations. Coalitions can be formed for the purposes of this project.

Please include the following information:

Name and location of the implementing organization, network, coalition;
Name and contact information, including email address, of the person submitting;
A brief description of the organization(s), network, coalition, etc. including mission statement and why it is well placed to implement this project;
A brief outline of current advocacy activities and how this project aligns, complements, or advances that existing work. Please specify any access to medicines advocacy experience (briefly);
A brief description of the advocacy objectives and the project proposed along with a brief rationale as to why and how this project will challenge the current private/profit medical innovation model; and
A brief outline of the desired support from OSF (financial, technical, networking) and what your organization or collation can bring itself.

We suggest proposals seeking $25,000 USD for a period of 6-12 months. We may offer some flexibility depending on the scope of work envisioned.

Only successful applicants will be contacted and invited to submit full proposals, and will be notified by August 7, 2015. Successful applicants will have until September 4, 2015 to submit full proposals for consideration. Projects can start as early as December 1, 2015.