Doha Twenty Years On – Has The Promise Been Betrayed?
By Yousuf Vawda and Bonginkosi Shozi
The Doha Declaration’s twentieth anniversary in November 2021 has taken place in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The experience of the past two years has demonstrated that the very factors that necessitated the Declaration—the problems of inequitable access to medicines and other health technologies for the world’s poor—continue to plague us.
Has the promise of the Doha Declaration been betrayed? In this contribution, we critically engage with this question, focusing our appraisal on whether the Doha Declaration has been successful in fulfilling its commitments to: (a) advancing access to health; (b) equity and fairness in the relations between WTO Members States; and (c) recognising perspectives from the developing world in formulating IP policy. Ultimately, we conclude that the promise of the Doha Declaration has failed to materialise.
There are many reasons for this. For instance, developed country governments have intentionally undermined the Declaration by their insistence on inserting more onerous TRIPS-plus provisions in free trade agreements and economic partnership agreements, which decimate the limited flexibilities permitted by the TRIPS Agreement. And where countries have sought to use such flexibilities, they have been assailed by an over-litigious pharmaceutical industry, and threats by governments such as the US 301 Watch List. For these reasons, we argue for the need for alternative paradigms to challenge Western hegemony and norms regarding IP and other trade-related issues, and for effectively challenging this through the application of a “decoloniality” approach.
In October of 2020, when India and South Africa proposed a waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS agreement, it was meant to increase local manufacturing capacity in these countries. The waiver was proposed as a tool to kick-start prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19. While there is an imminent need to meet a growing supply-demand gap for all medical products, COVID-19 related products are urgently required in poorer nations to contain the pandemic. The waiver has an additional role to play in the larger trade schema. In enabling vaccination of populations across the globe, the waiver would be critical to normalize global trade. The paper below captures the benefits of the waiver and compares it with the existing flexibilities under the trade regime, being compulsory licensing.
The Doha Ministerial Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health on its Twentieth Anniversary
By Nirmalya Syam, Viviana Munoz, Carlos M. Correa and Vitor Ido
This Policy Brief reviews the role of the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health in the twenty years since its adoption. It finds that the Doha Declaration has contributed to advance the use of the TRIPS flexibilities to promote public health and should be considered an important subsequent agreement to the TRIPS Agreement, despite the continuing challenges for WTO members to implement the TRIPS flexibilities in full. This brief also analyses the extent to which the Paragraph 6 System that became an amendment of the TRIPS Agreement as a new article 31 bis, pursuant to the Doha Declaration, has facilitated access to medicines and vaccines for countries with none or insufficient pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity. It finds that the system to date has not lived up to its promise. The Policy Brief recommends that WTO members assess and identify the challenges for the full use of the TRIPS flexibilities to promote public health, and advances that supplementary tools will need to be designed to never again allow such inequity in access to life saving vaccines and treatments as in the present COVID-19 pandemic.
Strengthening WHO for Future Health Emergencies while Battling COVID-19: Major Outcomes of the 2021 World Health Assembly
By Nirmalya Syam and Mirza Alas
The 74th World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) took place in May 2021 in a time when developing countries had to confront a substantial surge in COVID-19 infections and fatalities, while continuing to face inadequate access to vaccines. Meanwhile, the majority of the global supplies were secured by a few rich countries, ignoring the pleas of the WHO Secretariat. However, even though discussions around the COVID-19 response and strengthening emergency preparedness and response dominated the Assembly, WHO Member States could not achieve any concrete outcome to addressing the question of equitable access to vaccines and other health technologies for COVID-19. In this context, this policy brief describes some of the major outcomes of the Assembly.
Del SIDA al COVID-19: La OMS ante las crisis sanitarias globales
Por Germán Velásquez
Este documento de investigación es una compilación de artículos de Germán Velásquez publicados por el “Monde Diplomatique” (ediciones francesa y española) entre el 2003 y el 2021. El autor analiza como la OMS enfrentó las grandes crisis sanitarias de los últimos 20 años. El SIDA y la llegada de los primeros antiretrovirales, la gripe H1N1 con el despilfarro del Oseltamivir (nombre de marca “Tamiflu”) y las vacunas que al final fueron destruidas en grandes cantidades, el ébola donde la OMS llegó con cuatro meses de atraso, la hepatitis C y los fármacos que podrían curarla pero fueron lanzados al mercado con precios inaccesibles y, actualmente, la pandemia devastadora del COVID-19 que ha demostrado una vez más la insoportable desigualdad en el acceso a la salud y a las vacunas y tratamientos, entre los países del Norte y los países del Sur.
El denominador común a todas estas crisis sanitarias mundiales ha sido la reacción de los países miembros de la OMS de querer reformar la Organización de tal manera que ésta pueda responder mejor a la crisis del momento. Este es exactamente el movimiento que ha desatado la COVID-19 y el tema y las negociaciones que probablemente nos ocuparán en los próximos años.
Precios justos para la cobertura sanitaria universal: El impacto de la judicialización de la salud
Por Silvina Andrea Bracamonte y José Luis Cassinerio
En el presente trabajo se describen las principales directrices y recomendaciones sobre políticas de precios para ayudar a los países a desarrollar estrategias efectivas, como herramientas para lograr el acceso equitativo a los productos sanitarios con precios asequibles, desechando el creciente fenómeno de la judicialización de la salud como vía adecuada para abordar con un enfoque sistémico esta problemática compleja.
South Centre’s Submission to the 3rd Intersessional Meeting for Dialogue and Cooperation on Human Rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Strengthening human rights for fighting inequalities and building back better
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global crisis without precedent in modern history. Its effects have not been felt equally among all countries as it has exacerbated the profound economic and social inequalities affecting the most vulnerable. In light of the lessons, we have learned – and are still learning – from the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, the 3rd Intersessional Meeting for Dialogue and Cooperation on Human Rights and the 2030 Agenda serves as a vital opportunity to understand the needs and realities of those who are still ‘left behind’.
The most expensive drug in the history of the pharmaceutical industry
By Germán Velásquez
On May 27, 2019 the US FDA gave marketing authorization for Zolgensma gene therapy, from the Swiss firm Novartis. The price of the drug, administered in a single dose, is 2.125 million dollars, making it the most expensive drug in the history of the pharmaceutical industry. (more…)
Colombia’s Biogenerics Regulation A Preliminary Court Decision in favour of Public Health
By Carolina Gómez
The Council of State of Colombia’s recent ruling on the abbreviated pathway for marketing authorization of biogenerics is a valuable step towards acceptance and uptake of biogenerics, favoring public health, access and market competition.
In 2014, after several years of discussion and heated debate, Colombia issued a regulation for sanitary registration of biotechnological medicines, including biogenerics. The regulation explicitly included an abbreviated pathway for the registration of biogenerics, which allows for reduction or, in some cases, even waivers of comparative efficacy clinical trials. PK/PD and inumunogenicity studies are required. (more…)
South-South cooperation for confronting the neglected problem of snakebite envenoming: the role of Costa Rica
By Dr. Jose María Gutiérrez and Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez
As of 2018, the international community has a global framework to address the problem of snakebite envenomings, an acute problem that affects rural populations in tropical areas of the world, which mainly affects people from the most vulnerable sectors of the population and leaves significant negative consequences in millions of people around the world. This global framework was adopted by a resolution of the World Health Organization (WHO) at its 71st World Assembly on May 24, 2018, thus providing for a strong mandate to develop a comprehensive plan to address this health problem, work with affected countries, partners, stakeholders and industry, and develop a comprehensive approach that will allow countries to implement an effective response to this health issue.
This week the Prince Mahidol Awards conference will bring a global spotlight to the threat of emerging infectious diseases. The growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) will feature prominently in these discussions. The timing could not be better, but we urgently need to see more action on the part of the UN Interagency Coordination Group on AMR and key intergovernmental agencies gathering in Bangkok. (more…)
Heading off Global Action on Access to Medicines in 2018
By Dr. Jorge Bermudez and Dr. Viroj Tangcharoensathien
At the dawn of 2018, political and health leaders must seize the growing momentum and opportunities to tackle the protracted challenges of access to medicines that undermine efforts to save lives and improve health as committed under the Agenda 2030 SDG by all UN member states. (more…)