Pharmaceuticals

Research Paper 190, 24 January 2024

Implementing the Doha Declaration in OAPI Legislation: Do Transition Periods Matter?

By Patrick Juvet Lowé Gnintedem

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) provided for a number of transition periods allowing countries to engage in a phased implementation of their TRIPS obligations. More specifically, transition periods targeted the patenting of pharmaceutical products. The original deadlines for transition periods have expired for developed and developing country WTO members. However, based on the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health and subsequent TRIPS Council decisions, least developed countries (LDCs) continue to benefit from extended transition periods. In the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), after an amendment in 1999, the legal framework has evolved with the amendment of the Bangui Agreement, i.e., the Act of Bamako of 14 December 2015. As for the previous text, the newly amended Bangui Agreement consecrates the unification on industrial property amongst its seventeen Member States. The main objective of such an amendment remains to adapt its legal framework to the international environment and to the economic and social development needs of Member States. Yet only five OAPI Member States are developing countries; the twelve others are LDCs. Then the question arises: do transition periods consecrated pursuant to the Doha Declaration still matter for LDCs who have agreed to be subjected to the OAPI legislation? This paper points out that transition periods remain relevant in OAPI countries by application of the more favorable rule between the Bangui Agreement and the WTO TRIPS Council decisions. It is however noted that the OAPI current legal framework is still problematic, while its LDCs members are underutilizing this flexibility.

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Research Paper 184, 15 September 2023

Promoting Jordan’s Use of Compulsory Licensing During the Pandemic

By Laila Barqawi  

This paper addresses the difficulties in utilizing Article 31 bis of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) on compulsory licensing for the export of pharmaceuticals during the pandemic through the case study of Jordan. This paper also recommends that Jordanian officials seek to capitalize on the pandemic whilst the Jordanian Defense Law and Orders are in effect to include Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) as a direct ground for applying compulsory licensing, introduce clauses similar to those introduced by countries who have signed FTAs with the US, as well as deactivate harmful clauses within its national laws that prevent the application and utilization of a compulsory license. Further, Jordanian officials should seek the opportunity, considering the change of stance of the Biden administration towards compulsory licensing, to re-negotiate favourable terms in the Jordanian – US Free Trade Agreement (JUSFTA). Moreover, Jordanian officials should also form a syndicate that calls for the overhauling of TRIPS at Article 31 bis when an EUA is invoked in any country.

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Research Paper 180, 9 August 2023

Neglected Dimension of the Inventive Step as Applied to Pharmaceutical and Biotechnological Products: The case of Sri Lanka’s patent law

By Ruwan Fernando

Apart from the basic statutory definition in section 65 of the Intellectual Property Act of Sri Lanka, there do not appear to be any detailed statutory guidelines or judicial decisions to provide any framework for the assessment of inventive step in Sri Lanka. The current statutory definition is highly insufficient to evaluate the standard of obviousness in relation to biotechnological and pharmaceutical claims based on a combination or modification of a prior art reference.

The Courts in both developed and developing countries have adopted a variety of tests to evaluate the obviousness standard of a claimed invention based on a combination or modification of a prior art reference. Sri Lanka, as a developing country, should look at the development that has taken place in other jurisdictions and adapt the patent law to local conditions when developing tests or guidelines in a manner that is compatible with the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and its biotechnology/pharmaceutical policy guidelines.

This approach that is appropriate to Sri Lanka is twofold. First, it is most likely to prevent the issuance of patents on trivial or incremental inventions that do not provide any technical advance to the existing prior art and are a mere extension of what is already known in the prior art. Second, it is most likely to protect genuine technical advances to the existing prior art while at the same time enhancing competition and promoting local innovations so that the local researchers will be able to draw on the existing knowledge for the purpose of follow-on innovations.

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Documento de Investigación 175, 22 de marzo de 2023

Experiencias internacionales sobre la concesión de licencias obligatorias por razones de salud pública  

Por Catalina de la Puente, Gastón Palopoli, Constanza Silvestrini, Juan Correa

El presente estudio tiene como objetivo analizar los regímenes de licencias obligatorias (LOs) en países seleccionados, en particular los elementos económicos de la concesión de las LOs, la determinación y negociación de regalías al titular del derecho. Para ello se realizó un análisis descriptivo y exploratorio de experiencias de concesión de LO en países seleccionados, con foco en las experiencias de los países en vías de desarrollo por su proximidad al caso argentino.

En particular se discuten los ejemplos de experiencias de emisión de medidas de LOs o de UG en países en vías de desarrollo. Con especial foco en Latinoamérica, donde sólo dos países han hecho uso de dichas medidas por razones sanitarias (Ecuador y Brasil). Además se examina la eficacia del empleo de LO o de UG en la reducción de precios donde se evidencian ahorros significativos Como conclusión se propone elaborar una metodología en relación a las regalías para Argentina mediante un rango de pago que tome en consideración criterios de accesibilidad y asequibilidad poblacional a la tecnología licenciada, así como la sustentabilidad de los presupuestos de los agentes financiadores.

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Document de Recherche 171, 31 janvier 2023

Directives pour l’examen des demandes de brevet relatives aux produits pharmaceutiques

Par Carlos M Correa

Ce document fait suite à un document antérieur, Directives applicables à l’examen des brevets pharmaceutiques: examen des brevets pharmaceutiques du point de vue de la santé publique, publié en 2007 comme document de travail par le Centre international pour le commerce et le développement durable (CICDD), la Conférence des Nations Unies sur le commerce et le développement (CNUCED) et l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS).

Le présent document tient compte des évolutions survenues depuis la publication du document de travail CICDD-CNUCED-OMS en 2007. Il comprend de nouveaux exemples de demandes et/ou de délivrance de brevets, ainsi qu’une analyse et des références aux initiatives d’un certain nombre de pays qui ont adopté des lois et/ou des politiques visant à prendre en compte les considérations de santé publique dans l’examen des demandes de brevets.

Avec ce document, l’objectif est de fournir des orientations pour l’élaboration ou la révision de directives sur les processus d’examen des brevets dans les pays en développement, en réponse aux préoccupations concernant l’augmentation du nombre de brevets dans le secteur pharmaceutique. À cette fin, un certain nombre de recommandations sont formulées en ce qui concerne l’examen des demandes de brevetabilité relatives aux produits et procédés pharmaceutiques.

Ce document est une traduction de la version originale des “Directives pour l’examen des demandes de brevet relatives aux produits pharmaceutiques” publiées en anglais par le Programme des Nations Unies pour le Développement (PNUD). Le South Centre remercie le PNUD pour l’aimable autorisation de publier cette version non officielle. Traduit pour le South Centre par M. Natanael França.

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Documento de Investigación 171, 29 de Noviembre de 2022

Pautas para el Examen de Solicitudes de Patentes Relacionadas con Productos Farmacéuticos

Por Carlos M Correa

Este documento representa un seguimiento de un documento anterior, Pautas para el examen de patentes farmacéuticas – Una perspectiva desde la Salud Pública, que se publicó en 2007 como documento de trabajo por el Centro Internacional de Comercio y Desarrollo Sostenible (ICTSD), Estados Unidos, Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre Comercio y Desarrollo (UNCTAD) y la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS).

El presente documento toma en cuenta los desarrollos desde la publicación del documento de trabajo ICTSD-UNCTAD-OMS en 2007. Incluye nuevos ejemplos de solicitudes y/o subvenciones de patentes, además analiza y hace referencia a las iniciativas de varios países que han adoptado leyes y/o políticas dirigidas a considerar temas de salud pública en el examen de solicitudes de patentes.

El objetivo de este documento es proporcionar orientación para el desarrollo o la revisión de directrices sobre los procesos de examen de patentes en países en desarrollo en respuesta a las preocupaciones sobre el aumento del número de patentes en el sector farmacéutico. A tal fin, se formulan varias recomendaciones con respecto al examen de la patentabilidad de las solicitudes relativas a productos y procesos farmacéuticos.

Este documento es una traducción de la versión original de las “Directrices para el examen de solicitudes de patentes relacionadas con productos farmacéuticos” publicadas en inglés por la Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD). El South Centre agradece al PNUD por la amable autorización para publicar esta versión no oficial. Traducido para el South Centre por el Sr. Natanael França.

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Research Paper 168, 28 October 2022

TRIPS Flexibilities and Access to Medicines: An Evaluation of Barriers to Employing Compulsory Licenses for Patented Pharmaceuticals at the WTO

By Anna S.Y. Wong, Clarke B. Cole, Jillian C. Kohler

Under Articles 31 and 31bis of the TRIPS Agreement, WTO members may validly sanction the use of a patented invention without the patent owner’s authorization by issuing a compulsory license (CL). In the pharmaceuticals space, governments have historically employed compulsory licenses to compel originator manufacturers to license their patents to generic manufacturers before patent expiry, increasing the supply and reducing the price of patented pharmaceuticals domestically.

This paper evaluates the three primary barriers to employing compulsory licenses for pharmaceuticals underscored by members during TRIPS waiver discussions at the WTO: (1) a lack of enabling domestic legislation, (2) a lack of domestic manufacturing capacity coupled with an unworkable Article 31bis importation system, and (3) consistent political pressure from other members to refrain from issuing compulsory licenses. A survey of members’ domestic compulsory license legislation finds that virtually all members have enacted enabling legislation under Article 31 for the issuance of compulsory licenses to supply their local markets. However, implementation of Article 31bis is limited by a lack of enabling compulsory license export legislation, streamlined administrative processes, or both across all members, preventing members lacking domestic manufacturing capacity from importing pharmaceuticals. An analysis of USTR Special 301 Reports from 1994-2021 further reveals that countries have consistently been placed on the Special 301 Report Priority Watch List for issuing pharmaceutical compulsory licenses, with instances as recent as 2020. As such, general reluctance by members to issue compulsory licenses due to overt political pressure through the Special 301 Report is likely warranted. These results highlight a range of barriers preventing the full use of compulsory licenses for pharmaceuticals under the current Article 31 and 31bis framework, with the effects disproportionately borne by member states lacking domestic manufacturing capacity.

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Research Paper 166, 6 October 2022

Lessons From India’s Implementation of Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health

By Nanditta Batra

The major bone of contention between the developed and developing countries in the TRIPS negotiations was patents for pharmaceuticals. The US-led developed countries bloc argued in favour of patents for pharmaceuticals amidst opposition from Brazil, India and other countries. Ample evidence, including patented AZT for HIV/AIDS treatment, showed that patents could make life saving drugs prohibitively expensive. Notwithstanding the effect of patents on access to medicines, Article 27 of the TRIPS Agreement ordained patents for inventions “in all fields of technology”. While the genie was out of the bottle in the form of patents for pharmaceuticals, the developing countries were able to extract some procedural and substantive flexibilities like transition period, parallel importation and compulsory licensing to leverage the IP system to further public health. However, there was uncertainty with respect to the interpretation of TRIPS agreement, scope of the flexibilities and Member States’ rights to use them. It is in this background that the historic Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health assumed importance as it reaffirmed the rights of the Member States to take measures to protect public health, reconciled the interpretative tensions in the text of TRIPS Agreement and clarified the scope of some of the flexibilities and attempts to find solutions to the problems faced by countries that do not have sufficient manufacturing facilities. The Declaration which was initially dismissed by some scholars as “non-binding,” “soft law” has been held by WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) to constitute a “subsequent agreement” which must be followed in interpreting the provisions of TRIPS Agreement (Australia-Tobacco Plain Packaging Case).

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Research Paper 143, 11 January 2022

Brazilian Competition Law and Access to Health in Brazil: Exploitative Pricing in the Pharmaceutical Sector

By Bruno Braz de Castro

This paper aims to analyze the interfaces between Brazilian Competition Law and the issue of access to medicines, with a special focus on abuse of industrial property rights and related exclusionary and exploitative effects. The paper analyzes the case law of Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) in the pharmaceutical sector and discusses abusive practices such as illegitimately imposing non-existent or invalid intellectual property rights with anticompetitive purposes. It then addresses abusive strategies in the exercise of industrial property rights which are, in essence, valid: i.e., exclusionary practices, aimed at artificially raising barriers to entry; and exploitative practices, directly translated as the exercise of market power to the detriment of the consumer. The latter ultimately result in exploitative excessive prices; contractual, quality or privacy degradation; and restrictions on supply, such as by hoarding/preventing the exploitation of industrial property rights. The paper concludes that the prohibition of exploitative pricing under the current competition law is legally valid and effective, with certain methodological concerns towards reducing the risk of wrongful convictions (for instance, by applying screening tests to determine the markets that are candidates for intervention). In view of such guidelines, the pharmaceutical industry appears to be an important candidate for antitrust attention, given the magnitude of the harm potentially derived from non-intervention against the practice. Remedies in this area, importantly, should focus on identifying and solving the sector’s structural competitive problems. In the case of medicines subject to price regulation by the Drug Market Regulation Chamber (CMED), the technical expertise of the competition authority may be of great value in terms of competition advocacy, a fact that is demonstrated in light of recent discussions on extraordinary price adjustments because of competitive problems in certain markets.

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SouthViews No. 240, 1 September 2022

Competition Law and Intellectual Property: A Study Drawing from The Eli Lilly Case on ‘Sham Litigation’ in Brazil

By Pablo Leurquin

Competition authorities may be the best equipped institutions to penalize certain illicit practices that involve intellectual property rights. This article analyzes the decision by the Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense (Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica – CADE) in the Eli Lilly case, in which the company was convicted for abusive use of the right to petition (sham litigation) with anti-competitive effects. It examines general aspects of technological dependence in the Brazilian pharmaceutical industry, presents the legal premises necessary for the understanding of the decision made by the competition authority, and analyzes the legal grounds for the sanction imposed on Eli Lilly.

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Research Paper 146, 16 February 2022

A Review of WTO Disputes on TRIPS: Implications for Use of Flexibilities for Public Health   

By Nirmalya Syam

The use of TRIPS flexibilities by WTO members involves interpretation of the obligations under TRIPS which can be challenged under the WTO dispute settlement system. Mutually agreed solutions, panel or Appellate Body decisions adopted in such disputes can thus impact the scope of TRIPS flexibilities to address, among others, public health objectives. This paper explores how the WTO dispute settlement system applies to disputes under TRIPS, and reviews the outcomes of the disputes relating to the implementation of TRIPS obligations in the context of pharmaceutical products. The paper points to both systemic and substantive concerns arising from the application of the dispute settlement system to disputes under TRIPS. It finds that the dispute settlement system is not aligned to the unique nature of the TRIPS Agreement in the WTO as an agreement that creates positive obligations, and consequently how jurisprudence arising under disputes concerning other covered agreements having negative obligations, have led panels and Appellate Bodies to adopt narrow interpretations of the scope of TRIPS flexibilities in some of the few disputes arising under the TRIPS Agreement. Moreover, mutually agreed settlements adopted in the context of some of the disputes arising under TRIPS have also led to the adoption of TRIPS plus standards, limiting the scope of TRIPS flexibilities. However, in a recent decision, the WTO panel has also relied on the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health as a subsequent agreement to guide the interpretation of its provisions. In this context, the paper advances some suggestions to address the systemic and substantive issues arising from the application of the dispute settlement system to the TRIPS Agreement.

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Research Paper 145, 9 February 2022

The Right to Health in Pharmaceutical Patent Disputes

by Emmanuel Kolawole Oke

This paper examines how the courts in three developing countries (Kenya, South Africa, and India) have addressed the tension between patent rights on pharmaceutical products and the right to health. The paper begins by examining the nature of the relationship between patent rights and the right to health. It thereafter explores the justiciability of the right to health in Kenya, South Africa, and India. Furthermore, the paper provides an analysis of how the courts in these three developing countries have adjudicated some of the pharmaceutical patent cases involving tensions between the right to health and patent rights. The paper contends that by incorporating the right to health into the adjudication of patent disputes, courts in developing countries can play a crucial role in improving access to medicines at affordable prices.

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