The debate on generic medicines is not new. What makes it different today is that attacks levelled against biological products are couched in ever more “technical” and abstruse language that confuses even the World Health Organization (WHO).
Catherine Tomlinson, Heather Moyo, Zain Rizvi, Claire Waterhouse, Salomé Meyer and Marcus Low on behalf of Fix the Patent Laws and the Cancer Alliance. Click here for the full report (PDF)
Executive Summary: Cancer rates in South Africa are expected to rise significantly over the next two decades. In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of new cancer cases is expected to increase by more than 85% from 2008 to 2030.
[Drugs for Neglected Diseases press release, Link (CC-BY-NC-SA)] Malaysia has issued a “government use” licence enabling access to more affordable versions of an expensive and patented medicine to treat hepatitis C. This landmark decision should help the more than 400,000 people living with hepatitis C in Malaysia access sofosbuvir, and could have important repercussions in the global effort to secure access to expensive treatments for this viral disease.
In a stunning reversal of policy, on June 30, 2017, the Supreme Court of Canada overturned decades of precedent making it easier for the biopharmaceutical industry to gain patents on medicines without any real proof of a claim that a putative invention has any meaningful utility. This reversal in AstraZeneca Canada Inc. v. Apotex, Inc. is particularly disconcerting because Canada had just won an investor-state arbitration award in the long awaited Eli Lilly v. Canada case upholding its more stringent promise/utility doctrine that had been used successfully to overturn two dozen secondary patents, particularly those claiming new uses of known medicines, where patent claimants failed to present evidence in support of the prediction of therapeutic benefit promised in their patent applications.
English translation of a joint press release by eight Peruvian civil society organizations. Tranlation by Justin Mendoza (Access to Medicines Organizer, Public Citizen). The original press release in Spanish is available here, and the text is reproduced below.
[CONTACT: MARLON CASTILLO – Phone: 942118412] Lima, May 25, 2017 – The Congress of the Republic’s Health Commission approved by majority vote Draft Law 275/2016-CR, which proposes to declare the medicine Atazanavir to be in the public interest. Atazanavir is used in antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV and has cost the Peruvian government over 75 million soles over-expenditure in the past four years due to the monopoly held by the pharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb for its brand-name version of the drug, known as Reyataz.
[Médecins Sans Frontières, Link] Treatment for hepatitis C using the key drug sofosbuvir could be vastly scaled up in Brazil after the decision by the National Agency of Health Surveillance (Anvisa) to reject a key patent application on the drug marketed by pharmaceutical corporation Gilead. The decision could pave the way to enable generic competition in Brazil, which should lead to price reductions, making it more affordable to scale up treatment.
– Further campaign activity in India, Russia, Ukraine, Morocco, Zimbabwe
[TAC Press Release, Link (CC-BY)] Swiss multinational company Roche faced global condemnation today from women living with cancer, families of people with cancer, activists, scientists, researchers and health professionals from across the world. They highlighted the immoral and unconscionable tactics employed by Roche across the developed and developing world. Roche’s greed is preventing women from accessing affordable versions of trastuzumab, an essential medicine used in the treatment of breast cancer.
Medicines Patent Pool Press Release
Contact: Katherine Moore
In an effort to improve the international response to combatting multidrug-resistant TB, MPP and Johns Hopkins University sign licensing agreement for investigational treatment sutezolid
Geneva, 25 January 2017 — The Medicines Patent Pool today announced that it has signed a licence with Johns Hopkins University to facilitate the clinical development of tuberculosis (TB) drug candidate sutezolid. The antibiotic sutezolid has long been considered a promising investigational treatment that, if further developed in combination with other drugs, could be used to more effectively treat both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant TB in patients.
Abstract: In 2000, my colleague Yousuf Vawda and I became active in the global campaign to address intellectual property rights (IPRs), human rights, and barriers to access to affordable medicines for treating HIV and AIDS in South Africa. This paper details their academic collaboration, their activist-oriented “clinical” offering, and the vibrant campaign that it helped to spawn. It also situates the Fix the Patent Laws Campaign (the “Campaign”) within the global framework of pro-Pharma legal rules and diplomatic pressures, showing the connections between the global political economy and local reform efforts grounded in the right to health enshrined in the South African Constitution.
[United Nations press release, Link] Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message on the report of the High-level Panel on Access to Medicines — “Promoting Innovation and Access to Health Technologies”, in New York today:
Despite great scientific progress, all countries, from the poorest to the most prosperous, are facing challenges related to the costs of many medicines, diagnostics, medical devices and vaccines. Since rising costs of health technologies can push people into poverty, we have a shared duty to find solutions to ensure access to these technologies for all.
[ictsd.org] WTO members reviewed last week a series of recommendations by a UN panel aimed at supporting access to medicines, debating in particular the report’s findings relating to trade and intellectual property rights.
The discussions took place under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council, which is the WTO body that administers the TRIPS Agreement. The 8-9 November meeting was chaired by Ambassador Modest Jonathan Mero of Tanzania.
Authors: Hazel Moir, Brigitte Tenni, Deborah Gleeson & Ruth Lopert
Abstract: In the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement negotiations, the USA successfully pursued intellectual property (IP) provisions that will affect the affordability of medicines, including anti-retrovirals (ARV) for HIV. Vietnam has the lowest GDP per capita of the 12 TPP countries and in 2013 provided ARVs for only 68% of eligible people living with HIV. Using the current Vietnamese IP regime as our base case, we analysed the potential impact of a regime making full use of legal IP flexibilities, and one based on the IP provisions of the final, agreed TPP text.