The current request of WTO LDC Members for an unconditional extension of the time period within which they must become compliant with the TRIPS Agreement covers all forms of intellectual property protection under TRIPS. Even though it is true that some LDCs have signed other treaties that might impose some IP obligations, e.g., the Paris Convention on Industrial Property or the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, freeing themselves from the broader and stronger spectrum of IP mandates in TRIPS will enable their access to broad classes of essential public goods, including all medical commodities, educational and informational resources, agricultural resources, and green/climate control technologies.
Over 130 academics from around the world have signed a letter supporting the unconditional extension of the transition period within which least development country Members of the WTO must become fully compliant with the TRIPS Agreement until any such country ceases to be a least developed country.
The letter articulates 10 reasons supporting the proposed extension, many drawn directly from the language of Article 66.1 itself.
[Cross posted from Equilibri.net] Although access to medicines activists have been wise to focus our attention intently on convincing low- and middle-income countries to adopt and use all possible TRIPS-compliant flexibilities and to oppose the TRIPS-plus IP chapters in free trade agreements, we have neglected to interrogate another chapter in free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties that perhaps pose an even greater threat to our collective access to medicines – investment chapters.
Several of IP justice academics are soliciting signatures from legal and other academics around the world who focus on human rights, intellectual property, trade, and development and who are in favor of the request by WTO least developed country Members that they be granted an extension of the time period within which they must become compliant with the TRIPS Agreement. WTO LDC Members were initially given an extension with respect to all TRIPS requirements except national and most favored nation treatment until 2006. That transition period was further extended until June 30, 2013 in 2005 (a separate extension was granted on pharmaceutical products only until 2016) but with some unfortunate conditions (beyond the unreasonably short term), such as a requirement that LDCs must keep their current level of IP protections, something that was not required by TRIPS Article 66.1. The current request from LDC Members is for an unconditional extension of the transition period so long as an LDC Member is an LDC. It is hoped that a longer and unconditional extension permitting rollback of improvidently adopted IP standards will allow LDCs to build their technological base and improve limiting domestic capacities. This request has received support from 350 civil society organizations, from some industry groups, from several multilateral organizations, and from many developing country members of the WTO.
Novartis, its fellow Big Pharma multinationals, Chambers of Commerce, and PhRMA have all roundly denounced India’s Supreme Court’s decision invalidating Novartis’ patent application for Glivec (Gleevec in the United States) and its affirmation of strict anti-evergreening standards of patentability and inventive step in India. As usual, Big Pharma cannot tell the truth about what India has done, what international intellectual property rules require, and what the impact of this decision will be on product introductions in India and innovation of new medicines. Because journalists continue to carry Pharma canards and since observers are anxious to understand whether India’s decision is legal or purely instrumental to advance industrial policy in favor of Indian generics, I debunk the major myths with what I hope are convincing facts.
In a stunning victory for poor patients throughout the developing world, the Indian Supreme Court today ruled against a Novartis challenge of a denial of a patent on its cancer medicine Glivec. The Court upheld strict standards in the India Patents Act thereby limiting pharmaceutical monopolies and speeding access to more affordable generic medicines. The Indian generic industry, the pharmacy of poor in the Global South that supplies over 80% of AIDS medicines for the 8 million people in low- and middle-income countries, will not have to delay introduction of medicines year after year as Big Pharma evergreens its patent monopolies by seeking new 20 year patents on minor variations to existing medicines.
On February 27, the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and ViiV Healthcare UK Limited (ViiV) announced their License Agreement on an older antiretroviral (ARV), abacavir (ABC), for pediatric treatment only, in 118 countries where 98.7% of child living with HIV live. They also entered into a separate, non-binding Memorandum of Agreement (MoU), which promises collaboration on pediatric licensing of pipeline ARVs, development of novel combination pediatric formulations, and availability of novel pediatric formulations outside of the licensed territory.
Led by Haiti, least developed country Members of the WTO have on November 5 filed a so-called “properly motivated” request under Art. 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement for a collective extension of the transition period within which they must become TRIPS compliant. [See, WTO IP/C/W/583] . The request specifically averts that LDCs have not developed technologically and that they need continuing and future freedom from IP rules and the high prices associated with IP rights if they are to develop economically and technologically.
LDCs had previously been granted two pharmaceutical-related extensions of their original 11-year TRIPS transition period (1995-2006) following the adoption of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health. Those limited extensions are not set to expire until Jan. 1, 2016.
It is a tremendous victory for people living with HIV in Indonesia that it has issued new compulsory licenses on seven anti-retroviral medicines, allowing the government to access generic versions of those medicines – domestically or by importation – at much cheaper prices. Indonesia now stands at the head of the pack of countries that have stood up to Big Pharma’s corporation power and to the trade and diplomatic pressure exerted by US and EU powers that consistently advance the IP monopoly rights of pharmaceutical multinationals. A little discussed aspect of the government’s compulsory license is that certain Indian generic producers will be able to supply Indonesia’s purchase of Gilead’s tenofovir + emtricitabiine and tenofovir + emtricitabine + efavirenz because of smart provisions in the Medicine Patent Pool’s voluntary license with Gilead.
In a stunning development, following an obscure vote of Heads of State at the Africa Union in 2007 (Assembly Council/AU/Dec. 138(VIII)), the AU Scientific, Technical, and Research Commission has proposed a draft statute to establish the Pan-Africa Intellectual Property Organization (PAIPO). This proposed legislation will be presented to a meeting of the African Ministers in charge of Science and Technology on 6-12 November 2012 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The statute, drafted by true believers of IP-maximalist ideology, proposes to establish a region-wide intellectual property organization with the sole agenda of expanding IP rights, strengthening enforcement, harmonizing regional legislation, and eventually facilitating the granting of IP monopolies by a central granting authority that may well be legally binding on Member States.
The leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership Investment Chapter has been analyzed extensively with respect to its dangerous intellectual property protections and enhanced enforcement mechanisms and its equally dangerous extra-judicial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions. In contrast, this analysis focuses on the particular risks of the Investment Chapter with respect to access to medicines because of the direct and indirect inclusion of intellectual property rights in the Chapter’s coverage.
[Reposted from treatpeopleright.org]
“Treating people right” means many things, but one of the things it means is that people living with and at risk of HIV/AIDS must have immediate and affordable access to new medicines, diagnostics, and other medical technologies to ensure that their rights to health, to reduced risks of transmission to and from others, and to beneficial treatment are maximized. In a world that treats people right, medical research would be targeted to real needs (increased potency, durability, tolerability, stability, and ease-of-use), important medicines would be quickly brought to market, quality and safety standards would be safeguarded, and the medicines would be made available affordably to all in need by maximizing robust generic competition. AIDS activists have fought the IP and Pharma monopoly system for over two decades. We’ve been most successful in driving down costs for older antiretroviral medicines in some of the poorest and hardest hit regions, but IP barriers are getting worse, not better, and limited access to the latest and future generations of life-saving medicines could mean treating people wrong.