Access to Medicines

Research Paper 197, 28 May 2024

Compulsory Licensing as a Remedy Against Excessive Pricing of Life-Saving Medicines  

By Behrang Kianzad

The COVID-19 crisis intensified decade-long debates on the interaction between intellectual property rights (IPRs), competition law and access to affordable life-saving treatments and vaccines. Compulsory licensing of patented medicines is a tried-and-tested method to expand access, particularly in a situation of “national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency” within the meaning of Article 31(b) of the TRIPS Agreement. Some legislations, such as European competition law, offer a toolbox for curbing the exercise of IPRs if they would be found in conflict with certain competition rules, such as rules prohibiting excessive pricing by dominant undertakings. The paper analyses the interface between intellectual property law and competition law in general, moving on to the settled case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on this matter. It provides a general overview of legal and economics arguments related to excessive pricing prohibition and the main case law of European competition law on the matter and discusses whether compulsory licensing as a remedy against excessive pricing of patented life-saving pharmaceutical products can be a viable and appropriate remedy. Finally, the paper offers policy recommendations relating to compulsory licensing based on excessive pricing.

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South Centre Statement – WHA77, 27 May 2024

Statement of the South Centre to the 77th WHA

Agenda Item 3

A critical week for global health with the 77th session of the World Health Assembly. For decision, the future of the pandemic instrument and IHR amendment negotiations.

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SC Statement – NAM Health Ministers Meeting, WHA77, 25 May 2024

STATEMENT BY CARLOS CORREA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SOUTH CENTRE, AT THE VIRTUAL MEETING OF THE MINISTERS OF HEALTH OF THE MEMBER STATES AND OBSERVER STATES OF THE NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT

 25 May 2024

On the sidelines of the 77th session of the World Health Assembly

There is a need for a stronger and more effective WHO, which should be at the centre of norm-setting and moral guidance. NAM can play a key role in shaping the global health agenda. As in the past, the South Centre remains ready to support NAM efforts in this field.

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Policy Brief 128, 25 April 2024

The WHO Intergovernmental Negotiating Body process and the revised draft of the WHO Pandemic Agreement (A/INB/9R/3)

by Nirmalya Syam & Viviana Muñoz Tellez

This Policy Brief considers the negotiating process conducted so far by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) for an instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response under the World Health Organization (WHO), and some aspects of the draft text for the Resumed Ninth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB9R), as well as of the draft proposed resolution for consideration by the World Health Assembly in May 2024. The Policy Brief provides recommendations to assist member States in their negotiations during the INB9R to be held from April 29 to 10 May 2024.

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SouthViews No. 261, 23 April 2024

Proposal for a new Article 11bis in the WHO Pandemic Accord: a Pandemic Technology Transfer Mechanism

by Olga Gurgula and Luke McDonagh

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the failure of voluntary mechanisms during global emergencies and exemplifies the need for effective involuntary technology transfer tools. The WHO Pandemic Accord offers an opportunity to provide an effective mechanism to build upon existing TRIPS flexibilities in the specific pandemic context. We propose a new provision (Article 11bis) that outlines a mechanism on cross-border procedure of non-voluntary technology transfer during a pandemic. This procedure could be invoked in a pandemic scenario in which voluntary technology transfer mechanisms have failed to provide sufficient supplies of a needed pandemic product.

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Documento de investigación 196, 19 de abril de 2024

Licencias obligatorias para exportación: operacionalización en el orden jurídico argentino  

Por Valentina Delich

En el año 2017, entró en vigor la enmienda del Acuerdo sobre los Derechos de Propiedad Intelectual relacionados con el Comercio (ADPIC), por la cual se incluyó el artículo 31 bis en su texto. Esta disposición permite las licencias obligatorias para exportación a terceros países sin o con insuficiente capacidad de producción local. El objetivo es paliar las dificultades de los países sin infraestructura de producción de medicamentos para que puedan hacer un uso efectivo de las licencias obligatorias y así fortalecer el acceso a los medicamentos a un menor precio. Argentina es un país que tiene infraestructura de producción de medicamentos y potencialmente podría devenir en un exportador eficiente. Este documento explora la posible instrumentación del art. 31 bis en la legislación de Argentina, proponiendo incorporar en la ley de patentes nacional el instituto de la licencia obligatoria humanitaria.

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SouthViews No. 258, 11 March 2024

New US Policy on Exercise of March-In Rights to Curb High Drug Prices: Lessons for the Global South

By Nirmalya Syam

In response to soaring prescription drug costs, the United States government recently announced proposed changes to the exercise of march-in rights under the Bayh-Dole Act, allowing federal agencies to license taxpayer-funded inventions to other parties based on factors such as accessibility and affordability. This article explores the implications of the US policy shift on global pharmaceutical pricing and access, particularly for developing countries. Drawing parallels between the US approach and flexibilities under intellectual property laws such as compulsory licensing and government use authorizations that are allowed under the WTO TRIPS Agreement, the article suggests that similar strategies could be employed by developing nations to address public health needs and economic considerations.

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Documento de investigación 195, 6 de marzo de 2024

Régimen de licencias obligatorias y uso público no comercial en Argentina 

Por Juan Ignacio Correa

Con la adopción del Acuerdo sobre los Aspectos de Propiedad Intelectual relacionados con el Comercio (ADPIC), la Argentina debió adaptarse a las nuevas reglas internacionales en materia de derecho de patentes. Uno de los puntos centrales del Acuerdo es la posibilidad de establecer diferentes formas de licencias obligatorias y uso gubernamental no comercial. Este documento analiza las condiciones previstas en el artículo 31 del ADPIC con ese fin y examina en detalle las diferentes causales de licencias obligatorias contempladas en la legislación argentina y las condiciones aplicables a cada una de ellas, así como para el uso de patentes por parte del gobierno con fines no comerciales. Finalmente, con base en el margen normativo del ADPIC y la legislación vigente, el documento discute el posible contenido de una reglamentación de licencias obligatorias y uso público no comercial que permita a la Argentina utilizar de manera efectiva esas herramientas cuando se presente alguna de las circunstancias previstas en la actual regulación.

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SouthViews No. 256, 22 February 2024

How Should the WHO Pandemic Treaty Negotiations Tackle Intellectual Property?

By Viviana Muñoz Tellez

The WHO pandemic instrument should commit the Parties to limit the exclusionary effects that government-granted patents and other IPRs may have during pandemics in support of rapid diffusion of new vaccines, diagnostics, medicines and other tools and facilitate collaboration and freedom to operate. The current draft text of Article 11 would not make any change to the status quo.

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Research Paper 194, 15 February 2024

Implementation of TRIPS Flexibilities and Injunctions: A Case Study of India

by Shirin Syed

The proponents of intellectual property (IP) have increasingly utilized injunctions with indiscriminate propensity as a strategic tool for IP enforcement, resulting in adverse socio-economic implications, including the enjoyment of human rights. This trend has eclipsed the flexibilities provided in the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health. Although a substantial volume of the literature focuses on the flexibilities of compulsory license or scope of patentability, little attention has been given to the flexibilities related to IP enforcement. Discussing the implications of IP enforcement on public interest, the paper examines the gaps in the articulation of flexibilities of intellectual property rights (IPRs) enforcement, with special reference to injunctions in India. It examines how far the courts consider the implications on the enjoyment of fundamental rights while granting injunctions on patents. This paper argues that the Indian courts have deviated from the cautious approach provisioned under the TRIPS flexibilities that allows the courts to consider the public interest aspect and human rights implications while granting injunctions in patent litigation. Moreover, it asserts that the courts should exercise prudence in granting injunctive relief in cases involving patent infringement, and take into account the potential impact of such relief on the exercise of human rights. This suggests a need for a careful examination of the potential implications of injunctive remedies in such cases.

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