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.
The Ugandan Center for Health Human Rights and Development has published a set of Model Provisions to Promote Access to Affordable Medicines in the country’s IP legislation that has been under debate for three years. The project was done with support from UNDP Uganda.
The booklet warns that the Industrial Property Bill 2009 “unnecessarily goes over and above the minimum required standards in protection inventions, trademarks, industrial designs and other forms of industrial property,” which will impact Ugandans’ access to medicines. It contains clause by clause “some of the adjustments that are needed in the bill in line with recommendations made by stakeholders at a consultative meeting held in March 2012.
British Columbia’s Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology has announced that it will “offer students free online, open textbooks for the 40 most popular post-secondary courses.” The textbooks will be created “created with input from B.C. faculty, institutions and publishers through an open Request for Proposal process coordinated by BCcampus, a publicly funded organization that aims to make higher education available to everyone through the smart use of collaborative information technology services.” BCcampus said in a statement that the textbooks will be made available for free under Creative Commons licenses, or available in printed form for a low cost. Executive Director David Porter explained in a statement that “Open licenses are integral to making textbooks free for students, and flexible enough for instructors to customize the material to suit their courses.”
On September 3, the government of Indonesia took a quiet but exceptionally important step to expand access to medicines and help save and improve lives of people living with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B. President Dr. H. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a decree authorizing government use of patents for seven HIV/AIDS and hepatitis medicines. If implemented to the full, the measure would introduce widespread generic competition and generate major cost savings in the world’s fourth most populous country.
This blog is a summary of a panel titled “The Future of Affordable Antiretroviral Treatment: Trends in Patents and Price” at the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC on July 25, 2012. The authors’ presentations are available on a page provided by the conference: http://pag.aids2012.org/session.aspx?s=228#4
The first speaker, Francisco Viegas Neves da Silva from the Brazilian Ministry of Health, presented “Compulsory License and Access to Medicines – Economic Savings of Efavirenz in Brazil.” The country’s compulsory license on efavirenz was issued in 2007, when there were 75,000 patients taking the medicine in the country. Prior to issuing the license, the government held more than 8 negotiations with the patent holder, and eventually was offered a reduced price of USD 1.11 per pill. However, Brazil rejected the offer, noting that the patent holder offered a price of USD 0.65 to Thailand.
The British government has announced that it will make government-funded research freely available beginning next year. The Research Council’s UK announcement states that the new policy “will apply to all qualifying publications being submitted for publication from 1 April 2013″ and it “mandates use of the Creative Commons ‘Attribution’ license (CC-BY), when an Article Processing Charge (APC) is levied. The CC-BY licence allows others to modify, build upon and/or distribute the licensed work (including for commercial purposes) as long as the original author is credited.”
In testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet on 27 June 2012 (Hearing: Protecting Patents, Trade Secrets, and Market Access), the Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, who also serves as Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, grossly misrepresented the scope of permissible compulsory licensing under the WTO TRIPS Agreement.
In her misleading testimony, Teresa Stanek Rea said: “We are consistent on our efforts … of trying to stop these compulsory licenses.” Rea said she was particularly disappointed in March, when India’s Patents Office ordered Bayer AG to grant an Indian generics maker (Natco) a compulsory license for the cancer drug Nexavar, ruling that it was too expensive for most people to afford. (Note: the generic was 3% the cost of overpriced Bayer product and reached only a tiny fraction of eligible cancer patients in India.)
A post by Creative Commons Poland describes the government’s Digital School initiative, a section of which involves government funding for the creation of e-textbooks. All of the books created with the funding will be “made available under the Creative Commons Attribution license or another free license – one that allows use of resources and their derivatives with payments and in an unlimited, nonexclusive manner; made available in at least one open format (with full specification available without technical and legal limitations); [and] in the case of Web access, made available in accordance with the current W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).” Click here for the full post on creativcommons.pl.
The UN Development Programme and UNAIDS released a joint policy brief this week at workshop on the “Use of TRIPS Flexibilities and Access to Affordable ARVs in Asia.” The paper notes that the use of TRIPS flexibilities has expanded the number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy from 300,000 in 2002 to over 6.6 million in 2010. It warns that FTA provisions that broaden patentability, restrict patent oppositions, extend patent duration, require data exclusivity, require patent-registration linkage, and enhance IP enforcement all limit the use of these flexibilities. Therefore, these TRIPS-Plus provisions “may adversely impact medicine prices and consequently, access to treatment.”
[Reposted from CIS-India.org] There are some welcome provisions in the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2012, and some worrisome provisions. Pranesh Prakash examines five positive changes, four negative ones, and notes the several missed opportunities. The larger concern, though, is that many important issues have not been addressed by these amendments, and how copyright policy is made without evidence and often out of touch with contemporary realities of the digital era.
The Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2012 has been passed by both Houses of Parliament, and will become law as soon as the President gives her assent and it is published in the Gazette of India. While we celebrate the passage of some progressive amendments to the Copyright Act, 1957 — including an excellent exception for persons with disabilities — we must keep in mind that there are some regressive amendments as well. In this blog post, I will try to highlight those provisions of the amendment that have not received much public attention (unlike the issue of lyricists’ and composers’ ‘right to royalty’).
The petition to the White House to require public access to the published results of taxpayer funded research has taken off – gaining more than 13,500 signatures in less than three days. In order to get a response, a petition must get at least 25,000 signature in 30 days, so this is an awesome start.
Just as Novartis appealed from an order denying its patent application on Glivec, Bayer has now appealed the granting of a compulsory license on Nexavar. Rather than honestly state that it likes selling its cancer medicines for $67,000 to only the richest patients in India, which means that only 200 or so patients get the medicine instead of the tens of thousands who need it, Bayer still makes a nifty profit of nearly $13 million dollars on those sales. If the price excludes the 99%, that’s fine with Bayer – that’s the logic of what it calls the international patent regime.