Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines: An Introduction to Key Issues – Some Basic Terms and Concepts
Intellectual property and patents in particular, have become one of the most debated issues on access to medicines, since the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the coming into force of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Patents are by no means the only barriers to access to life-saving medicines, but they can play a significant, or even determinant, role. During the term of patent protection, the patent holder’s ability to determine prices, in the absence of competition, can result in the medicine being unaffordable to the majority of people living in developing countries. This first issue of the “South Centre Training Materials” aims, in its first part, to provide an introduction to key issues in the field of access to medicines and intellectual property. The second part describes and defines some basic terms and concepts of this relatively new area of pharmaceuticals policies which are the trade related aspects of intellectual property rights that regulate the research, development and supply of medicines and health technologies in general.
Intellectual Property under the Scrutiny of Investor-State Tribunals
Legitimacy and New Challenges
By Clara Ducimetière
In 2009, C.S. Gibson was suggesting that: “With this early coverage of intellectual property in BITs, it is perhaps surprising that there has yet to be a publicly reported decision concerning an IPR-centered investment dispute. Given the trajectory of the modern economy, however, in which foreign investments reflect an increasing concentration of intellectual capital invested in knowledge goods protected by IPRs, this could soon change”. A couple of years later, the first investment cases dealing with IP issues were made public.
In this context, this paper first addresses the conditions that have to be fulfilled in order to bring intellectual property claims in investment arbitration, by touching upon the question of the definition of an investment in theory and in practice. It also tries to shed light on some of the implications of recent arbitral awards touching upon this interaction between intellectual property and investment protection, from a legal and regulatory perspective.
On the other hand, the specific situation of the European Union is scrutinized, and in particular the project put forward by the European Commission to adapt the dispute settlement system for the protection of investments.
Antivirales de acción directa para la Hepatitis C: evolución de los criterios de patentabilidad y su impacto en la salud pública en Colombia
Por Francisco A. Rossi B. y Claudia M. Vargas P.
La hepatitis C en el siglo XXI y el VIH en el final del siglo XX han representado los más relevantes retos de salud pública para la comunidad internacional. No solamente por ser enfermedades infecciosas y transmisibles (razón de ser de la salud pública) sino por su carácter mortal si no se recibe tratamiento de manera oportuna. En Octubre de 2015, la fundación IFARMA solicitó que todos los medicamentos antivirales para la hepatitis C, utilizables para curar una infección crónica transmisible potencialmente mortal, fueran declarados de interés público, dado que su precio amenazaba la sostenibilidad financiera del sistema de salud. Una declaración de interés público para estos medicamentos sería el primer paso para la emisión de licencias obligatorias. Este trabajo se ha llevado a cabo para identificar las patentes existentes en Colombia para estos productos, su alcance y sus consecuencias, en el marco de una discusión sobre la transparencia del sistema de patentes y la evolución del rigor con que se evalúan las solicitudes y se conceden las patentes.
Mainstreaming or Dilution? Intellectual Property and Development in WIPO
By Nirmalya Syam
In 2007 Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) unanimously adopted a set of 45 recommendations which constitute the WIPO Development Agenda. Developing countries sought to give new direction to WIPO through the Development Agenda, away from the pursuit of facilitating and strengthening protection, acquisition and enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights as an end in itself towards an approach that would be sensitive to the impact of IP on development, both in terms of opportunities as well as costs. This paper explores whether development considerations have been adequately addressed by WIPO since its creation as the United International Bureau for the Protection of Intellectual Property (BIRPI) in the nineteenth century. The paper also analyses whether the implementation of the WIPO Development Agenda adopted in 2007 has shaped the current vision of the WIPO Secretariat and its Member States to address the impact of IP on development; and whether implementation of the Development Agenda has facilitated the use of IP law and policy as a tool that responds to advancing innovation, industrial, health, agricultural, education and other development policies in developing countries. The paper finds that the approach towards IP in WIPO continues to be dominated by a perspective that pursues acquisition, protection, management and enforcement of IP rights as an end in itself. Conflicting interpretations of development orientation have adversely impacted the implementation of the Development Agenda in the spirit in which the developing countries had proposed the Development Agenda. The paper recommends developing countries to undertake cross regional coordination to enhance their level of engagement on IP and development, advance specific suggestions for achieving greater impact on addressing development challenges through specific activities including projects in the areas of technical assistance as well as norm-setting, pursue governance reforms in WIPO to ensure greater representation of developing countries in the decision making bodies of WIPO and in the staff composition of the WIPO Secretariat, amend the WIPO Convention to align its mandate on IP promotion to the development needs and challenges of its Member States and the development goals of the United Nations (UN), and also pursue a review of the relationship between the UN and WIPO as a UN specialized agency in the UN Economic and Social Council.
Time for a Collective Response to the United States Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property
By Viviana Muñoz-Tellez, Nirmalya Syam and Thamara Romero
This policy brief discusses the annual Special 301 report issued by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). The report is a unilateral tool of the US to pursue its foreign intellectual property (IP) policy by exerting pressure on countries to reform their IP laws and practices. Developing countries are particularly susceptible to this threat. The report identifies countries that are considered by the US as not providing adequate and effective protection of IP of rights holders from the US. The selection of countries is biased to the concerns raised by segments of the US industry. The report targets balanced provisions in countries’ legislations to ensure that IP rights do not hinder the ability of the government to adopt measures for promoting development priorities, particularly in the area of public health. A uniform and collective international response by the affected countries is long overdue. The way forward is to continue dialogue in appropriate multilateral fora, recognizing the need for all countries to maintain policy space to use IP as a domestic policy tool.
Access to Medicines: Experiences with Compulsory Licenses and Government Use – The case of Hepatitis C
By Dr. Carlos M. Correa and Dr. Germán Velásquez
This South Centre research paper discusses first, the limitations of the current research and development (R&D) model and its implications for access to medicines. Second, it considers the tension between intellectual property rights applied to medicines and States’ observance of the fundamental right to health. Third, it examines the case of access to medicines for the treatment of Hepatitis C, illustrating the barriers to access created by intellectual property and the high prices normally associated with its exercise. Fourth, it presents the background, main aspects and obstacles to the achievement of the objectives of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health (2001). To conclude, this paper examines the experiences of compulsory licensing and government use of patents in Latin America (particularly in Ecuador, Peru and Colombia).
Will the Amendment to the TRIPS Agreement Enhance Access to Medicines?
By Dr. Carlos M. Correa
An amendment to the TRIPS Agreement by incorporation of the text of the decision of the WTO General Council on 30 August 2003 (as article 31bis) has been made in response to the problem identified in paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health. This paragraph sought a solution to situations where patented pharmaceuticals which are not available in a country with no or insufficient manufacturing capacity can be supplied by a foreign provider. As originally adopted, the TRIPS Agreement did not allow the grant of compulsory licenses for exports only, thereby preventing generic manufacturers from exporting the required products to countries unable to produce them. While the new article 31bis is a step forward as it reflects public health concerns, it would be necessary to streamline the procedures to effectively ensure broader access to pharmaceutical products at low cost and in a timely manner.
Compulsory Licensing Jurisprudence in South Africa: Do We Have Our Priorities Right?
By Yousuf A Vawda
Compulsory licences are generally available on a variety of grounds, most notably on patents where the patentee is found to have abused its rights in one manner or another. This research paper attempts to review South African case law on applications for compulsory licences since the inception of the current legislation, analyse the interpretations placed on the relevant sections, and draw conclusions about judicial reasoning, impediments to the grant of such licences, and generally the courts’ approach to disputes relating to patents.
Acceso a medicamentos: experiencias con licencias obligatorias y uso gubernamental – el caso de la Hepatitis C
Por Dr. Carlos M. Correa y Dr. Germán Velásquez
El acceso a medicamentos está fuertemente condicionado por su precio y por los mecanismos de financiamiento que pueden aplicarse en cada país. […] Un factor determinante en la fijación del precio de los medicamentos es el grado de competencia existente en una particular clase terapéutica, la que a su vez es influenciada por la existencia o no de derechos de propiedad intelectual, como patentes de invención.