Medicines Patent Pool (MPP)
Where Does Global Health Funding Come From and Where Does It Go?
By Germán Velásquez
In theory, the World Health Organization (WHO) is the coordinating agency for global health. Influential private and public actors have claimed the relevance and central role of this United Nations (UN) agency. In practice, paradoxically, the money budgeted for health goes largely to other institutions and not to the WHO. New institutions and mechanisms have been created to which funds are channeled (GAVI, The Global Fund, Act-A, CEPI, COVAX, etc.). These institutions or mechanisms are, in most cases, public-private partnerships where the pharmaceutical industry is usually present. Official Development Assistance is important but represents only 1 per cent of what developing countries’ expenditure on health. How much is spent to promote global health and where this money goes is the subject of this paper. After the experience with COVID-19, a fundamental question that must be addressed is how the global public interest can be preserved by creating common public goods and protecting human rights in the prevention, preparedness, and response to present and future pandemics.
De dónde viene y a dónde va el financiamiento para la salud mundial
Por Germán Velásquez
En teoría la OMS es la agencia coordinadora de la salud mundial, y los grandes actores, privados y públicos, revindican la relevancia y el rol central de esta agencia de Naciones Unidas. En la práctica, paradójicamente, los dineros para la salud van en gran parte a otras instituciones y no a la OMS o incluso se crean nuevas instituciones o mecanismos donde se canalizan los nuevos fondos (GAVI, Fondo Mundial, Act-A, CEPI, COVAX etc.) Estas instituciones o mecanismos son, en la mayoría de los casos, partenariados público-privados donde está presente la industria farmacéutica. La Ayuda Oficial para el Desarrollo es importante pero sólo representa el 1% de lo que invierten los países en desarrollo en salud. En qué se gasta para promover la salud global y a dónde va este dinero es el objeto de este documento. Una de las preguntas que debemos hacernos tras la experiencia con COVID-19 es cómo vamos a preservar el interés público global mediante la creación de bienes públicos comunes y la protección de los derechos humanos en las actividades de prevención, preparación y respuesta a las pandemias presentes y futuras.
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.
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.
Making Covid-19 Medical Products Affordable: Voluntary Patent Pool and TRIPS Flexibilities
By Sudip Chaudhuri
The proposal of Costa Rica to create a voluntary pool mechanism for medical products and technologies for COVID-19 has evoked huge interest and optimism. The World Health Organization (WHO) and Costa Rica have followed it up through a Solidarity Call emphasizing the need for voluntary licensing on non-exclusive basis to the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). The success of a voluntary pool critically depends on the willingness of the patentees to join the pool. In a public health crisis, boundaries of public policy must not be determined by the patentees. MPP will work much better if the patentees are compelled or induced to join the pool. International cooperation is important in this regard. Highlighting the virtues of voluntary measures and promoting MPP without adequate emphasis on the use of compulsory licensing and other TRIPS flexibilities, actually weakens the MPP. In the light of the experience of MPP, the basic objective of this paper is to analyze to what extent voluntary pool mechanisms can be relied upon to make COVID-19 medical products affordable and accessible. It is important to appreciate the achievements of MPP. But the constraints under which it operates, and its limitations must also be kept in mind.
The grant of patents and the exorbitant cost of “lifesaving” drugs
By Germán Velásquez
The important relationship between the examination of patents carried out by national patent offices and the right of citizens to access to medicines hasn’t always been well understood. Too often these are viewed as unrelated functions or responsibilities of the state. And the reason is clear: patentability requirements are not defined by patent offices, but frequently by the courts, tribunals, legislation or treaty negotiators. This is the case when patent policy is implemented in isolation from, rather than guided by, public health policy. (more…)