Access to Medicines

Policy Brief 91, April 2021

Compulsory license in Germany: Analysis of a landmark judicial decision

By Christoph Spennemann and Clara Warriner

This policy brief analyzes how the German Federal Court of Justice addressed compulsory licensing under German patent law, where the request for a compulsory license was used in preliminary proceedings as a defense against alleged patent infringement.

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Statement, March 2021

South Centre Statement on World TB Day

Countries need to step up the response to tuberculosis and take all possible measures to expand access to treatment.

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COVID-19 Compulsory Licenses Table, March 2021

Scope of Compulsory License and Government Use of Patented Medicines in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

To meet public health needs, such as in the current COVID-19 emergency, governments can use compulsory licenses and government use as a tool for procurement and import of patented medicines.

These mechanisms are provided for in most laws worldwide. The WTO TRIPS Agreement, as reaffirmed by the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, recognises the right of WTO members to grant compulsory licenses and their freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licenses may be granted (read our Call for Action on Intellectual Property and Trade Measures to Address the Covid-19 Crisis here).

The South Centre offers a guide for the issuance of compulsory licenses and government use, see here, aquí en español.

The table below provides information of instances of their use.

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Research Paper 129, March 2021

The TRIPS waiver proposal: an urgent measure to expand access to the COVID-19 vaccines

by Henrique Zeferino de Menezes

Despite multilateral commitments and political statements of solidarity and cooperation to guarantee the availability and access to COVID-19 vaccines (and other relevant technologies for control and treatment), the scenario after the beginning of vaccination is marked by the deepening of vaccine nationalism, the concentration of inputs and vaccines production, and the uneven distribution of options of vaccine doses already approved for use. This pattern of production restrictions and unequal access will lead to an increase in international inequalities, leaving a large part of the world to have access to vaccines not until 2024. While advanced purchase agreements (APAs) among pharmaceutical companies and some developed countries are multiplying, the proposed mechanisms for voluntary licensing of technologies and the COVAX Facility do not achieve their goal of democratizing access to vaccines. In this sense, the current TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) waiver proposal seems to be the political and institutional response with the greatest potential to guarantee the scaling of the production of pharmaceutical inputs, allowing the adoption of a comprehensive strategy to ensure timely, sufficient, and affordable access to all technologies developed to fight COVID-19.

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Statement, February 2021

STATEMENT OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE BOARD OF THE SOUTH CENTRE, H.E. MR. THABO MBEKI, TWENTY-FIRST MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE MEMBER STATES OF THE SOUTH CENTRE, 11 FEBRUARY 2021

The unprecedented health, economic and social crisis that the world has faced since last year has severely hit our developing countries and undermined their efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. In some cases, the progress made over the last decade, particularly in reducing poverty, has been lost. The effects of this crisis have not been felt equally among all countries either. It has exacerbated the profound economic and social inequalities affecting the poorer countries and the most vulnerable…

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COVID-19 Compulsory Licenses Table, February 2021

Scope of Compulsory License and Government Use of Patented Medicines in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

To meet public health needs, such as in the current COVID-19 emergency, governments can use compulsory licenses and government use as a tool for procurement and import of patented medicines.

These mechanisms are provided for in most laws worldwide. The WTO TRIPS Agreement, as reaffirmed by the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, recognises the right of WTO members to grant compulsory licenses and their freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licenses may be granted (read our Call for Action on Intellectual Property and Trade Measures to Address the Covid-19 Crisis here).

The South Centre offers a guide for the issuance of compulsory licenses and government use, see here, aquí en español.

The table below provides information of instances of their use.

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South Centre Semester Report, July-December 2020

South Centre Semester Report, July-December 2020

This Semester Report summarizes the activities undertaken by the South Centre during the period 1st July to 31 December 2020. It is intended to provide information, organized by themes, about recent developments in the areas covered by the Centre’s Work Program, meetings organized or co-organized by the Centre to examine particular issues or provide analytical support for negotiations taking place in various international fora, and conferences and other meetings where the Centre has participated. It also informs about publications made.

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SouthViews No. 212, 28 January 2021

The Right to Development and its Role in International Economic Law

By Olasupo Owoeye

This paper provides a brief discussion on the right to development and examines some of the criticisms often raised against its significance as a cognizable human right. The paper argues that the principles encapsulated in the right to development represent the foundational principles of the international legal order. The right to development is therefore both a human right and an economic right. Thus, the principles it embodies are not only incorporated into the International Bill of Human Rights, they are also well reflected in World Trade Organization agreements and the field of international economic law. The paper argues that the right to development can play an important role in the interpretation and enforcement of rights under international economic law.

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Rapport sur les politiques 75, Janvier 2021

Repenser la R&D pour les produits pharmaceutiques après le choc du nouveau coronavirus COVID-19

Par Dr. Germán Velásquez

La crise sanitaire mondiale sans précédent provoquée par la pandémie de coronavirus –COVID-19–, au cours du premier trimestre 2020, ramène avec une urgence particulière la discussion sur le modèle de recherche et développement (R&D) pour les produits pharmaceutiques et autres technologies de la santé. La crise COVID-19 montre qu’il est urgent de repenser la gouvernance mondiale de la santé publique pour la R&D en matière de santé. L’adoption d’un instrument contraignant – comme le permet l’article 19 de la Constitution de l’OMS – sur cette question a été proposée il y a de nombreuses années. Ce document soutient qu’il est temps de relancer et de concrétiser cette initiative.

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Research Paper 127, December 2020

Revisiting the Question of Extending the Limits of Protection of Pharmaceutical Patents and Data Outside the EU – The Need to Rebalance

By Daniel Opoku Acquah

The European Union (EU) has instituted internal and external measures aimed at protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights. In the area of pharmaceutical patents, the Union has also sought to protect its industries through patent term extension and data exclusivity. Recent EU free trade agreements (FTAs) with developing countries contain chapters on intellectual property that extend patent terms and data exclusivity for pharmaceutical products. Such acts further prolong the lifespan of protection given to existing products and limit generic market entry. I identify the issue as one of “cross-pollination” of laws and argue that since similar laws exist in the internal regime of the EU, incorporating them into the EU would not be too technically difficult. However, to the extent that this regime is simulated in developing countries, implementation would damage the health sectors and economies of these countries. I therefore propose that developing countries should not be forced to adopt such laws through FTAs. If they are forced to adopt the laws after all, there should be a compulsory inclusion of (1) a clause on transitional arrangements for developing countries specific to intellectual property; (2) a clause that clearly links the objectives for intellectual property protection and enforcement (in this context, patent term extension and data exclusivity) to balance the promotion of technological innovation with access to medicines; and (3) a clause on Bolar exemption and a manufacturing waiver.

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Panel discussion, 11 December 2020

Guaranteeing Access to Medicines: Reforming Trade and Investment Treaties in the COVID-19 Era

Eight months into COVID-19, what is the status of the international investment regime and access to essential medicines? The GDP Center’s Working Group on Trade and Access to Medicines will host a panel discussion on trade, the investment regime, and access to essential medicines. The event is co-sponsored by the South Centre, the intergovernmental organization of developing nations based in Switzerland.

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