Hoffman, S.J. & So, K., 2015. Assessing 15 Proposals for Promoting Innovation and Access to Medicines Globally. Annals of Global Health , 80 (6) , pp. 432-443. PDFAbstract


There is widespread recognition that the existing global systems for innovation and access to medicines need reform. Billions of people do not have access to the medicines they need, and market failures prevent new drugs from being developed for diseases that primarily affect the global poor. The World Health Organization's Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination (CEWG) analyzed numerous proposals for reform. The aim of this article is to build on these previous inquiries.


We conducted a structured analysis that grouped proposals into five broad opportunities for global policy reform to help researchers and decision makers to meaningfully evaluate each proposal in comparison with similar proposals. Proposals were also analyzed along three important dimensions—potential health impact, financial implications, and political feasibility—further facilitating the comparison and application of this information.


Upon analysis, no one solution was deemed a panacea, as many (often competing) considerations need to be taken into account. However, some proposals, particularly product development partnership and prizes, appeared more promising and feasible at this time and deserve further attention.


More research is needed into the effectiveness of these mechanisms and their transferability across jurisdictions.

Hoffman, S.J., Røttingen, J.-A. & Frenk, J., 2015. Assessing Proposals for New Global Health Treaties: An Analytic Framework. American Journal of Public Health , pp. e1-e8. PDFAbstract

We have presented an analytic framework and 4 criteria for assessing when global health treaties have reasonable prospects of yielding net positive effects.

First, there must be a significant transnational dimension to the problem being addressed. Second, the goals should justify the coercive nature of treaties. Third, proposed global health treaties should have a reasonable chance of achieving benefits. Fourth, treaties should be the best commitment mechanism among the many competing alternatives.

Applying this analytic framework to 9 recent calls for new global health treaties revealed that none fully meet the 4 criteria. Efforts aiming to better use or revise existing international instruments may be more productive than is advocating new treaties.

Rizvi, Z. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. Effective Global Action on Antibiotic Resistance Calls for Careful Consideration of Convening Forums. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics , 43 (2) , pp. 74-78. PDFAbstract

Global collective action is needed to address the growing transnational threat of antibiotic resistance (ABR). Some commentators have recommended an international legal agreement as the most promising mechanism for coordinating such action. While much has been said about what must be done to address ABR, far less work has analyzed how or where such collective action should be facilitated - even though the success of any international agreement depends greatly on where it is negotiated and implemented. This article evaluates four different forums that states may use to develop an international legal agreement for antibiotic resistance: (1) a self-organized venue; (2) the World Health Organization; (3) the World Trade Organization; and (4) the United Nations General Assembly. The need for a multisectoral approach and the diverse institutional landscape suggest that an effective response may best be coordinated through linked action pursued through multiple forums.

Hoffman, S.J., Røttingen, J.-A. & Frenk, J., 2015. International Law Has a Role to Play in Addressing Antibiotic Resistance. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics , 43 (2) , pp. 65-67. PDFAbstract

If an international legal agreement is needed for any of today's global health challenges, it would be antibiotic resistance (ABR). This challenge is transnational, its solution justifies coercion, tangible benefits are likely to be achieved, and other commitment mechanisms have thus far not been successful. Since addressing ABR depends on near-universal and interdependent collective action across sectors, states should utilize an international legal agreement - which formally represents the strongest commitment mechanism available to them.

Andresen, S. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. Much Can Be Learned about Addressing Antibiotic Resistance from Multilateral Environmental Agreements. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics , 43 (2) , pp. 46-52. PDFAbstract

One of the major global health security issues of our time is antibiotic resistance (ABR). To address this problem much can be learned from our attempts to deal with a different but serious global issue: the environment. Like the environment antibiotic effectiveness can be seen as a common good, since it is finite and it is very difficult to stop people from abusing them inappropriately. Environmental issues have traditionally been handled using multilateral environmental agreements (MEA) between partner nations, political regions, and in some cases the whole globe. Studying these agreements and understanding what works and what does not work can provide a guide of where to begin with the ABR crisis. A brief examination of environmental agreements reveals five institutional design features that appear to be very relevant to the global threat of ABR: (1) robust reporting and verification procedures; (2) must include both sanctions for non-compliance and assistance for implementation; (3) must be designed in such a way to allow maximally ambitious content; (4) should include implementation mechanisms for strengthening political decision-making and securing independent scientific advice; and (5) must contain provisions, obligations, and targets that are as specific, precise, and clear as possible.

Behdinan, A., Hoffman, S.J. & Pearcey, M., 2015. Some Global Policies for Antibiotic Resistance Depend on Legally Binding and Enforceable Commitments. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics , 43 (2) , pp. 68-73. PDFAbstract

To address the challenge of antibiotic resistance (ABR), the international community must ensure access, conservation and innovation of antibiotics. These goals can be significantly advanced through ten global policies that have been recommended to form part of an international legal agreement. Policies that could be central to this agreement include the establishment of standards, responsible antibiotic use regulations, and strengthening global surveillance systems. Funding for access, mobilizing resources for infrastructure, strengthening infection control practices, and regulating antibiotic marketing could also be helpful if included in a legal agreement. Incentives for innovation could also be included to mobilize support for its implementation. The inclusion of these policies in an international legal agreement could effectively support global collective action towards several ABR policy goals, some of which may depend on it for their achievement.

Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. Inside the International Effort to Fund Government Programs That Actually Work. Vox. Article
Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. The One Chart You Need to Understand Any Health Study. Vox. Article
Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. There's a Superbug Outbreak in California. But it's Really a Global Problem. Vox. Article
Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. What All Patients can Learn from Angelina Jolie. Vox. Article
Hoffman, S.J. & Røttingen, J.-A., 2015. Assessing the Expected Impact of Global Health Treaties: Evidence from 90 Quantitative Evaluations. American Journal of Public Health , 105 (1) , pp. 26-40. PDFAbstract

We assessed what impact can be expected from global health treaties on the basis of 90 quantitative evaluations of existing treaties on trade, finance, human rights, conflict, and the environment.

It appears treaties consistently succeed in shaping economic matters and consistently fail in achieving social progress. There are at least 3 differences between these domains that point to design characteristics that new global health treaties can incorporate to achieve positive impact: (1) incentives for those with power to act on them; (2) institutions designed to bring edicts into effect; and (3) interests advocating their negotiation, adoption, ratification, and domestic implementation.

Experimental and quasiexperimental evaluations of treaties would provide more information about what can be expected from this type of global intervention.

Hoffman, S.J. & C., T., 2015. Biological, Psychological and Social Processes that Explain Celebrities' Influence on Patients' Health-Related Behaviors. Archives of Public Health , 73 (3) , pp. 1-11. PDFAbstract

BackgroundCelebrities can have substantial influence as medical advisors. However, their impact on public health is equivocal: depending on the advice’s validity and applicability, celebrity engagements can benefit or hinder efforts to educate patients on evidence-based practices and improve their health literacy. This meta-narrative analysis synthesizes multiple disciplinary insights explaining the influence celebrities have on people’s health-related behaviors.

Methods: Systematic searches of electronic databases BusinessSource Complete, Communication & Mass Media Complete, Humanities Abstracts, ProQuest Political Science, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Sociology Abstracts were conducted. Retrieved articles were used to inform a conceptual analysis of the possible processes accounting for the substantial influence celebrities may have as medical advisors.

Results: Fourteen mechanisms of celebrity influence were identified. According to the economics literature, celebrities distinguish endorsed items from competitors and can catalyze herd behavior. Marketing studies tell us that celebrities’ characteristics are transferred to endorsed products, and that the most successful celebrity advisors are those viewed as credible, a perception they can create with their success. Neuroscience research supports these explanations, finding that celebrity endorsements activate brain regions involved in making positive associations, building trust and encoding memories. The psychology literature tells us that celebrity advice conditions people to react positively toward it. People are also inclined to follow celebrities if the advice matches their self-conceptions or if not following it would generate cognitive dissonance. Sociology explains how celebrities’ advice spreads through social networks, how their influence is a manifestation of people’s desire to acquire celebrities’ social capital, and how they affect the ways people acquire and interpret health information.

Conclusion: There are clear and deeply rooted biological, psychological and social processes that explain how celebrities influence people’s health behaviors. With a better understanding of this phenomenon, medical professionals can work to ensure that it is harnessed for good rather than abused for harm. Physicians can discuss with their patients the validity of celebrity advice and share more credible sources of health information. Public health practitioners can debunk celebrities offering unsubstantiated advice or receiving inappropriate financial compensation, and should collaborate with well-meaning celebrities, leveraging their influence to disseminate medical practices of demonstrated benefit.

Belluz, J. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. Don’t Just Google Your Health Questions; Use These Sites Instead. Vox . Article
Sandberg, K., Hoffman, S.J. & Pearcey, M., 2015. Lessons for Global Health from Global Environmental Governance, London: Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs, UK). PDFAbstract

This paper examines how global health’s institutional architecture should be matched with its governance needs by drawing lessons from the field of global environmental governance.

Hoffman, S.J., Cole, C.B. & Pearcey, M., 2015. Mapping Global Health Architecture to Inform the Future, London: Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs, UK). PDFAbstract

This paper finds that some functions in the global health system are performed by a greater concentration of actors than others, which may not be the best configuration to match the future challenges that the global health system will face. 

Hoffman, S.J., 2015. A Science of Global Strategy. In J. Frenk & S. J. Hoffman, ed. “To Save Humanity”: What Matters Most for a Healthy Future. Oxford. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 173-176.Abstract

We must learn how to act collectively across national borders so that we can effectively address the transnational health threats and social inequalities that face us.

Edge, J.S. & Hoffman, S.J., 2015. Strengthening National Health Systems’ Capacity to Respond to Future Global Pandemics. In S. Davies & J. Youde, ed. The Politics of Surveillance and Responses to Disease Outbreaks. Surrey, UK. Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing, pp. 157-179. Full BookAbstract

The capacity to conduct international disease outbreak surveillance and share information about outbreaks quickly has empowered both State and Non-State Actors to take an active role in stopping the spread of disease by generating new technical means to identify potential pandemics through the creation of shared reporting platforms. Despite all the rhetoric about the importance of infectious disease surveillance, the concept itself has received relatively little critical attention from academics, practitioners, and policymakers. This book asks leading contributors in the field to engage with five key issues attached to international disease outbreak surveillance - transparency, local engagement, practical needs, integration, and appeal - to illuminate the political effect of these technologies on those who use surveillance, those who respond to surveillance, and those being monitored.

Frenk, J. & Hoffman, S.J. ed., 2015. "To Save Humanity": What Matters Most for a Healthy Future, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Full BookAbstract
  • Nearly 100 short, accessible essays on today's most pressing topics, authored by leading global figures from politics, science, academia, and advocacy
  • Contributors include luminaries, former presidents, and celebrated dignitaries from all sectors of society
  • Taken together, can serve as a primer of current world events and a prescriptive to-do list for future policies and interventions

"The UN was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell." -- Dag Hammarskjold, United Nations Secretary-General 1953-1961 The turn of the 21st century was an objective low point in the history of human health: AIDS was scourging Africa, millions of women died each year in child birth, and billions suffered under malnourishment and poverty. In response, the United Nations launched its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an ambitious charter that since 2000 has measurably reduced the worldwide burdens of poverty, hunger, and disease. With the MDGs set to expire in 2015, continued progress on these fronts is anything but certain. In addition to the persisting threats of the 20th century, globalization has sped the development of new threats -pandemics, climate change, chronic disease - that now threaten rich and poor countries equally. "To Save Humanity" is a collection of short, honest essays on what single issue matters most for the future of global health. Authored by the world's leading voices from science, politics, and social advocacy, this collection is both a primer on the major issues of our time and a potential blueprint for post-2015 health and development. This unparalleled collection will provide illuminating and thought-provoking reading for anyone invested in our collective future and well-being.