Abstract: The challenge of providing access to high-priced patented medicines is a global problem affecting all countries. A decade and a half ago the use of flexibilities contained in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, in particular compulsory licensing, was seen as a mechanism to respond to high-price medicines for the treatment of HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income countries. Today a number of upper-income European Union (EU) Member States are contemplating the use of compulsory licensing in their efforts to reduce expenditure on pharmaceutical products.
Joint letter signed by 43 civil society organizations
Dear Ministers: As organisations representing health professionals and health advocates from countries that are signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), we write to convey our deep concerns about reports that some of the remaining TPP parties are considering resurrecting the TPP following the U.S. withdrawal, and to reiterate concerns raised with you previously regarding its negative impacts on people’s right to health, access to affordable medicines, and the ability of governments to regulate health-damaging activities of corporations.
IP provisions in FTAs may have implications on a wide range of public policy areas. A vast academic literature has addressed the “flexibilities” available under the TRIPS Agreement and the negative impact of FTAs in relation to access to medicines.
[AFTINet Press Release, Link] “The Australian government should reject the push from US Republican Congress members to increase biologic medicine monopolies by seven years, even more than the extra three years which has already been agreed in the TPP text,” Dr Patricia Ranald, Convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network said today.
Dear President Obama: As organizations that represent millions of Americans, including consumers, retirees, and patients, and that provide medical care globally, we are concerned about recent reports that your Administration is working behind the scenes to craft Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) implementing legislation and possibly enter into side letters that would mean even more lengthy monopoly protections for biologics than the already onerous provisions in the TPP agreement. It is our understanding that this could bind the United States to a 12-year market exclusivity period for biologics and block the U.S. and other countries from reducing the amount of time expensive biologic drugs are protected from competition from less expensive biosimilar drugs.
India is often called the “pharmacy of the developing world” because its pharmaceutical firms provide a large portion of the generic drugs consumed in the South. However, Northern countries are increasingly importing Indian drugs as well, as high prices have led to greater generic uptake.
As an example, the United States has greatly expanded the amount of medicines it buys from India.
Catherine Tomlinson, Yuan Qiong Hu, Julia Hill and Claire Waterhouse
Fix the Patent Laws Campaign
Full Text (PDF)
In this report, we present nine case studies that demonstrate how systemic shortcomings in South Africa’s patent laws negatively impact on access to medicines to treat a wide range of diseases in both the public and private sectors.
The case studies illustrate how a flawed system can allow pharmaceutical companies to prolong their monopoly periods in South Africa for years – and sometimes even decades – after their patent protections have expired in other parts of the world, to the detriment of millions of patients.
Authors: Hannah Brennan, Amy Kapczynski, Christine H. Monahan, and Zain Rizvi
Abstract: High drug prices are creating serious health and fiscal problems in the United States today. This reality is vividly illustrated by recently approved medicines to treat Hepatitis C. These new medicines can cure nearly everyone with this potentially fatal infection and may even enable the elimination of this disease. But the drugs’ sticker price — close to $100,000 — has meant that very few patients who could benefit from them can access them. This Article describes an approach, available under existing law, to bring about transformative reductions in the prices of these medicines, at least for federal programs and possibly beyond.
[MSF Press Release, Link] Tomorrow Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will defend the rights of millions of children around the world to be protected against pneumonia at a hearing at India’s Patent Office. In March the organisation filed a ‘patent opposition’ to prevent US pharmaceutical company Pfizer from getting a patent on the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13), so more affordable versions can become available to developing countries and humanitarian organisations.
[Catherine Saez, IP Watch, Link (CC-BY-NC-SA)] A resolution on access to medicines proposed by a number of developing countries was adopted today by the United Nations Human Rights Council, as well as a resolution on enhancing capacity-building in public health. This marks yet another United Nations fora in which developing countries seek to raise the issue of access to medicines, particularly with regard to high prices.
The Pennsylvania Fair Trade Coalition (PFTC) has released questionnaires completed by candidates Sanders and Clinton on their views on the Trans Pacific Partnership. The questionnaires consist of ten questions and allow the candidates to give detailed answers. Topics include intellectual property and medicines, labor, environment, and fast track. Both candidates’ fully completed questionnaires are available in the PFTC press release. Question 4, on intellectual property and access to medicine, and each candidates’ full answer, are reproduced below:
Cross posted from the Third World Network page on IP and Access to Medicines.
SUMMARY: Biologics at monopoly prices are extremely expensive and are a growing share of medicines, including life-saving medicines. The latest leaked TPP IP chapter proposes a monopoly of up to 12 years for biologics, even when they are not patented.
Therefore what is defined as a ‘biologic’ that gets this exclusivity period for up to 7 years longer than chemical medicines in the leaked TPP IP chapter is very important.