Research Papers

Research Paper 114, June 2020

Equitable Access to COVID-19 Related Health Technologies: A Global Priority

By Dr. Zeleke Temesgen Boru

Since COVID-19 was first identified, infections from the virus and the death toll have spiked abysmally. The pandemic has also paralyzed the economies (particularly, global trade, tourism and transport) of many countries. The dire social and psychological ramifications associated with the pandemic are also immense. The threat posed by COVID-19 on global health and the economic downturn resulting thereof necessitates the development of health technologies (such as medicines and vaccines). A global effort to invent new health technologies or the likely application of existing technologies is also underway since the outbreak of the pandemic. Even though the race to develop these technologies can be hailed as a pivotal undertaking, the development of health technologies alone may not expedite equitable access to the outcome of such development. Particularly, the lack of access to health technologies may befall if the conventional model of health technology pricing, which is derived from monopoly rights created by IP protection, is set. However, legal as well as policy tools can be used to overcome such hurdles and ensure global access to health technologies. In this sense, this paper discusses plausible legal and policy options that can help to accelerate access to health technologies targeting COVID-19.

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Documento de Investigación 113, Junio 2020

La Evolución de la Jurisprudencia en Materia de Salud en Argentina

Por Silvina Andrea Bracamonte y José Luis Cassinerio

El derecho humano a la salud es una construcción social que se redefine constantemente, cuya característica de progresividad determina que los Estados deban establecer políticas públicas con el objeto de lograr mayor eficiencia, en la medida de los recursos disponibles, para su satisfacción respecto de toda la población. Por distintas razones sociales, económicas y de avance en el conocimiento, transitamos en las últimas décadas el fenómeno de la judicialización de la salud, que provoca que el Poder Judicial es quien finalmente establece ciertas reglas en las decisiones sanitarias, a través de la resolución de conflictos donde solo se reivindica la protección individual de ese derecho, sin debate acerca de la equidad y eficacia del sistema. Este hecho hace necesario que los pronunciamientos de los tribunales deban adaptarse, incluyendo en su análisis, además de la aplicación de las leyes que amparan este derecho al caso en particular, los factores sociales y económicos concomitantes, y un examen más estricto respecto de la evidencia científica de los tratamientos reclamados. La evolución de los casos de salud se ve reflejada en la jurisprudencia actual que, dentro de las funciones que competen a los jueces, además de amparar el derecho individual vulnerado, muestra una tendencia orientada a ponderar también el interés público asociado especialmente en estos casos. El propósito del presente trabajo es identificar, analizar y sistematizar la transformación de los casos judiciales de salud y los cambios que se producen en la jurisprudencia en Argentina como consecuencia de la nueva realidad en materia sanitaria que la conduce.

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Documento de Investigación 112, Junio 2020

La Judicialización del Derecho a la Salud

Por Silvina Andrea Bracamonte y José Luis Cassinerio

Este trabajo examina el incremento de los conflictos judiciales en materia de salud en América Latina. La judicialización en materia de salud se ha convertido en uno de los medios habituales por los que se reclama la protección del derecho de fundamental a la salud. La intervención de la justicia produce efectos individuales positivos ya que efectivizan el reconocimiento del derecho a la salud y a la vida. También puede tener incidencia en el uso de los recursos del sistema de salud sin planificación, determinando que se atiendan demandas no prioritarias.  La judicialización en materia de salud representa un aspecto más de un problema estructural y complejo relacionado con la inequidad y desfinanciamiento de los sistemas de salud en Latinoamérica. El trabajo analiza el proyecto de creación de una Agencia de Evaluación de Tecnologías (AGNET) y sostiene que una adecuada regulación debería establecer principios que los jueces puedan utilizar a fin de que se reconozca aquel derecho fundamental dentro de una hermenéutica constitucional razonable, que a su vez resulte más equitativa y financieramente sostenible.

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Research Paper 111, May 2020

National Measures on Taxing the Digital Economy

By Veronica Grondona, Abdul Muheet Chowdhary, Daniel Uribe

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Inclusive Framework is considering a two-pillar approach on taxing the digital economy. Preliminary estimates about the impact of its recommendations show a modest increase in corporate income tax collection, the benefits of which are expected to go mostly to the developed countries. At the same time, there is a rise in national measures on taxing the digital economy, a move spurred by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is also fully within the rights of countries under international law, despite labels of ‘unilateralism’. This research paper highlights the direct tax measures being taken by various countries and finds three key approaches to tax the digital economy: (1) digital service taxes; (2) nexus rules based on significant economic presence ;(3) withholding tax on digital transactions.

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Documento de Investigación 110, Mayo 2020

Estudio Preliminar del Capítulo Sobre Propiedad Intelectual del Acuerdo MERCOSUR – UE

Por Alejandra Aoun, Alejo Barrenechea, Roxana Blasetti, Martín Cortese,Gabriel Gette, Nicolás Hermida, Jorge Kors, Vanesa Lowenstein, Guillermo Vidaurreta

El presente documento realiza un estudio preliminar del capítulo XX relativo a propiedad intelectual del Acuerdo MERCOSUR – UE de libre comercio, MERCOSUR logró en este capítulo que la UE hiciera tabla rasa respecto de los anteriores acuerdos de libre comercio. Se arribó a un resultado equilibrado, que refleja las concesiones de ambas partes.

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Research Paper 109, May 2020

Non-Violation and Situation Complaints under the TRIPS Agreement: Implications for Developing Countries

By Nirmalya Syam

While the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) provided for the applicability of non-violation and situation complaints to the settlement of disputes in the area of intellectual property (IP), when the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements were adopted in 1994, a moratorium was put in place until WTO Members could agree on the scope and modalities for the application of such complaints. However, for more than two decades, discussions in the TRIPS Council on the subject have remained inconclusive. The biannual WTO Ministerial Conference has granted extensions of the moratorium with regularity. This paper reviews the debate on the applicability of non-violation and situation complaints under the TRIPS Agreement, including the arguments consistently held by two WTO Members that if the moratorium is not extended by consensus, non-violation and situation complaints would become automatically applicable. This paper argues that a consensus decision by the WTO Ministerial Conference is required to determine the scope and modalities and, hence, the applicability of such complaints under the TRIPS Agreement. Even if the moratorium was not extended, the WTO Ministerial Conference should still adopt a decision calling on the TRIPS Council to continue examination of the scope and modalities of such complaints. It also argues that in the absence of an extension of the moratorium on initiating such complaints—and although they would not be applicable—a situation of uncertainty would be created that may lead to a de facto limitation in the use of flexibilities allowed under the TRIPS Agreement.

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Research Paper 108, April 2020

Public Health and Plain Packaging of Tobacco: An Intellectual Property Perspective

By Thamara Romero

In 2018, a World Trade Organization (WTO) Panel ruled that plain packaging of tobacco products was consistent with Australia’s obligations under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and was in the interest of public health. Plain packaging restricts the use of logos, colours and brand images to reduce the demand for and consumption of tobacco products by diminishing their advertising appeal. This paper discusses the intellectual property aspects triggered by the implementation of plain packaging, examines the best practices for its implementation and provides analysis of Australia’s case from the public health perspective. It also highlights the main arguments used in the dispute against Australia and provides practical guidance for WTO Members on implementing measures to protect public health.

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Research Paper 107, April 2020

Guide for the Granting of Compulsory Licenses and Government Use of Pharmaceutical Patents

By Dr. Carlos M. Correa

Like other rights, patent rights are not absolute. There are situations in which their exercise can be limited to protect public interests. Such situations may arise, for instance, when access to needed pharmaceutical products must be ensured. Compulsory licenses and government use for non-commercial purposes are tools, provided for under most laws worldwide, that can specifically be used to address public health needs. This document is intended to provide legal guidance for the effective use of such tools, consistently with the international law.

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Research Paper 106, March 2020

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Data Exclusivity and Access to Biologics

By Dr. Zeleke Temesgen Boru

The test data rule concerning biological medicines (hereafter biologics) has been suspended from the scope of application of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). While the suspension is commendable from the general standpoint of access to medicines and biologics in particular, the suspended provision may not provide assurance for the Parties to the CPTPP that they can rely on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) flexibilities to promote access to biologics. In part this is because the Parties may end the suspension if and when they choose to do so. Simply put, the agreement does not promise that the suspended provision will remain suspended; rather, the Parties may revive the provision as originally negotiated under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. The provision, if revived, may inhibit the Parties from implementing an obligation to ensure access to biologics, medicines that target chronic and rare ailments like cancer, clotting factors and several others.

Against this backdrop, this research paper focuses on the test data rule relating to biologics as negotiated under the TPP. In particular, it explores whether the CPTPP Parties would be able to use TRIPS flexibilities effectively to promote access to biologics, as advanced by international human rights instruments, in particular the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The paper also provides potential responses to the question of whether the test data rule deters the realization of access to biologics. In response, the author has determined that the rule on test data can limit access to biologics, as it would delay the entry of affordable biologics (biosimilars) into markets.

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Documento de Investigación 105, Marzo 2020

Intersección entre Competencia y Patentes: Hacia un Ejercicio Pro- Competitivo de los Derechos de Patente en el Sector Farmacéutico

Por María Juliana Rodríguez Gómez

La interacción entre propiedad industrial, particularmente patentes farmacéuticas, y el derecho de la competencia, tiene un impacto en asuntos de interés general como los derechos a la salud, al acceso a los beneficios de la tecnología y a la libre competencia. La cuestión es cómo hacer compatible un mercado farmacéutico competitivo y dinámico, con el sistema de patentes, que otorga monopolios legales significativamente amplios sobre productos considerados innovaciones. A partir de un análisis legislativo y casuístico, se concluye que son necesarias mejores políticas pro competitivas -en especial en países en desarrollo- para enfrentar prácticas como el reverdecimiento (‘evergreening’) de patentes, los acuerdos para demorar la entrada de competidores y la negativa a licenciar, entre otras usadas en el sector farmacéutico para bloquear la entrada de la competencia. Los competidores, los consumidores y los sistemas de salud son vulnerables al creciente número de patentes y a esas prácticas.  Diversas medidas pueden adoptarse, sin embargo, para lograr un balance entre la protección de la innovación y la competencia.

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Research Paper 104, March 2020

Antimicrobial Resistance: Examining the Environment as Part of the One Health Approach

By Mirza Alas

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a serious issue that is threatening the medical and agricultural advances of today. The connections that exist among human health, food production and the environment necessitate a One Health approach to address the challenge of AMR. Recent research points to the environment as an essential factor in the spread of AMR, as well as a possible reservoir of antimicrobial resistant bacteria and genes. The process, however, of the environmental transmission of resistance genes, along with their effects and how to mitigate them, is still being examined. As new research emerges, so to have new challenges regarding the selective pressure of antibiotics on the environment. AMR in the environment is not new, with resistance genes found even in isolated places (e.g. in permafrost or volcanoes) but understanding this natural process and its implications for tackling AMR continue to pose many questions. This paper aims to examine some of the emerging research on AMR from a One Health perspective and in particular to highlight the role of the environment. It will explore the use of antibiotics and their effects in different ecosystems, as well as the challenges they pose for developing countries: in particular, in designing policies to address antimicrobial resistance that take into account the connections among humans, animals and the environment.

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Research Paper 103, February 2020

Eighteen Years After Doha: An Analysis of the Use of Public Health TRIPS Flexibilities in Africa

By Yousuf A Vawda and Bonginkosi Shozi

As we observe the 18th anniversary of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) and Public Health, it is appropriate to take stock of intellectual property developments and endeavour to present a comprehensive account of the situation in the African continent in respect of the implementation of TRIPS flexibilities, specifically those regarding access to medicines. This research paper provides an overview of the extent to which selected African countries have adopted legal and policy frameworks with regard to TRIPS flexibilities, examines the actual use of these flexibilities in enabling access to medicines in those countries, and suggests some recommendations for optimising the use of the flexibilities in pursuing public health imperatives.

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