[Ip-health] Fw: Global AIDS Conference Sees Pledge Of Access, Call For Funding; IP Rights Discussed

Joan-Hu-Yuanqiong joan_hu_msf at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 2 01:59:51 PDT 2010

IP-Watch, July 28, 2010

Link to the article: http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/?p=11882&utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alerts
Global AIDS Conference Sees Pledge Of Access, Call For
 Funding; IP Rights Discussed											
Catherine Saez			
				@ 12:37 pm
global AIDS community meeting in Vienna last week ended with renewed
determination to fight the epidemic but underlined an urgent need for
increased funding to sustain scientific advances and universal access.
Some warned against an intellectual property rights enforcement push
threatening global access in particular through bilateral and regional
trade agreements. 

The 18th International AIDS conference took place from 18-23 July and drew 19,300 participants from 193 countries, according to a  press release [pdf]. 

The conference aimed at keeping the HIV issue an international
priority in the context of a global economic downturn and at promoting
universal access to treatment (IPW, Public Health, 19 July 2010). 

“International governments say we face a crisis of resources, but
that is simply not true. The challenge is not finding money, but
changing priorities,” Julio Montaner, AIDS 2010 chair and president of
the International AIDS Society, said in the release. “When there is a
Wall Street emergency or an energy crisis, billions upon billions of
dollars are quickly mobilised.” 

Scientific evidence that shows benefits earlier expanded treatments benefits are being disregarded by international donors, according to Médecins Sans Frontières
(MSF, or Doctors without Borders), with a “general trend toward
backtracking on HIV funding.” For instance, research carried out in
Lesotho, in southern Africa, showed evidence that earlier treatment
“reduced the mortality and hospitalisation among HIV patients by more
than 60 percent,” it said. However, international donors tend to advise
countries to restrict treatment to people in advanced stages of HIV

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,
speaking at the conference on 19 July, said there was reduced
investment in global health, according to his keynote speech. 

Advocating efficiency, he said, “We have to be honest with
ourselves: we do not have the money to treat our way out of this
epidemic.” He added that “we need to make sure we are getting the most
benefit from each dollar on funding and every ounce of effort.” 
But MSF warned against what they defined as “dominating messages
heard throughout the conference calling for more financial efficiencies
in a time of economic recession,” that could shift the focus from
patient needs. 

Drug prices are increasing, said MSF, such as the cost of improved
World Health Organization-recommended first-line regimen. There is also
an increased need for second-line drugs, which are “coming down
slowly,” the group said, and patent protection is limiting generic
competition for newer drugs. Drug companies were not challenged at all
on prices during the conference, MSF said, with the “head of a major
foundation” stating that drug costs were “low enough” and “efficiencies
needed to be found elsewhere,” Tido von Schoen-Angerer of MSF said in a

Countries Need Trade Flexibilities, NGOs Say

The relationship between intellectual property rights, pricing and access was discussed in several events at the conference. 

At a side session entitled, “Access to Essential ARVs and
Intellectual Property Rights: A continued Battle in Developing
Countries,” Mark Heywood, of Section 17 in South Africa, said that
countries must take advantage of the World Trade Organization Agreement
on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
flexibilities, according to a report by one of the organisers. 

Supatra Nakapew, of the Thai NGO Coalition on AIDS, said that new
threats were coming from the EU-Thailand free trade negotiations with
TRIPS-plus rules, and the country is still listed in a United States
“watch list” because of a compulsory licence on AIDS, heart disease and
cancer drugs. 

The event was organised by China Access to Medicines Research Group,
the Third World Network, the South Centre, Lawyers Collective, and
Brazilian Interdisciplinary Association on AIDS

Hu Yuanqiong, legal consultant for China Access to Medicines
Research Group, said that China has capacity for generic pharmaceutical
production, and that in 2007, 6,913 generic drug companies were
established in the country. However, patents prevented local production
of second-line formulations of antiretrovirals. The way forward is to
make use of patent flexibilities and share information among broad
networks like China, India, Brazil, South Africa, and others, Yuanqiong
said, according to the organiser’s report.
Anand Grover of India, the UN special rapporteur on the right to
health, said TRIPS flexibilities are threatened by TRIPS-plus measures
appearing in the EU-India free trade agreement, according to the

The Third World Network also released a press statement about what
they described as the EU actions threatening universal access in
developing countries. 

“The EU is negotiating or planning to negotiate free trade
agreements with over 90 developing countries and is pushing these
countries to accept TRIPS-plus provisions,” Sanya Reid Smith of TWN
said in the release. “Some TRIPS-plus provisions that the EU has been
pushing are data exclusivity, patent term extension and higher
enforcement standards.” That will translate into much higher costs for
developing countries, she said.
Patent Pool, Pharma Efforts

On 21 July, Ellen ‘t Hoen, senior advisor for the UNITAID Medicines
Patent Pool Initiative, presented the strategy of the patent pool
during the plenary session. According to her presentation
posted to the A2K listserv, the cost of treatment is increasing because
new AIDS drugs are likely to be patented in developing countries with
high prices. Even in India new drugs might be patentable, as the
leading generics producer’s 2005 implementation of the TRIPS agreement
introduced patent protection on pharmaceuticals (though with

Some provisions in bilateral or regional free trade agreements are
aimed at limiting flexibilities in patent law “well beyond what is
required by the WTO,” she said. 
The webcast from the 21 July plenary session is available here.

UNITAID is a financing mechanism based on a solidarity tax on
airline tickets and supported by 29 countries, she said. The Medicines
Patent Pool Initiative is a mechanism where patent holders make
licences available through the patent pool which will allow others
producers to manufacture low cost generic versions of the patented
antiretrovirals for developing countries. Royalties to patent owners
will be due on the licences taken from the pool.

A press release
from UNITAID said the patent pool will be managed by the Medicines
Patent Pool Foundation, which will soon open for business. They will
then start negotiations with patent holders. 

In the meantime, the Financial Times reported that three of
the world’s largest pharmaceutical groups have agreed to allow generic
drug manufacturers use all their existing and experimental HIV
medicines royalty-free to sell generics at low cost in developing

And on 21 July, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) launched a UNAIDS High Level Commission on HIV Prevention.
The commission’s goal will be to campaign towards a sustained support
for effective HIV prevention programmes over the coming year. The
commission’s co-chairs are Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Nobel Laureate in
Medicine for her role in the discovery of HIV, and Archbishop Emeritus
Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. 

The biennial AIDS conference convened 248 sessions overall. The next
AIDS conference will be held in July 2012 in Washington, DC.
Catherine Saez may be reached at csaez at ip-watch.ch.




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