[Ip-health] WTO TRIPS Council (February 2015): LDC request for extension of transition period for pharmaceutical products

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Tue Feb 24 05:09:53 PST 2015


WTO TRIPS Council (February 2015): LDC request for extension of transition
period for pharmaceutical products

http://keionline.org/node/2179

Submitted by thiru <http://keionline.org/user/6> on 24. February 2015 -
13:58

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is convening the TRIPS Council from
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 to Wednesday, 25 February 2015. As mentioned
in a previous
piece <http://keionline.org/node/2167>, Norway and the United States "have
submitted a written request for the inclusion of the topic, "Intellectual
Property and Innovation: Women And Innovation (Source: WTO TRIPS
Council-February 2015- Norway and the United States bring gender
mainstreaming to the fore-Women and Innovation,
http://keionline.org/node/2167).

On Monday, 23 February 2015, Bangladesh, on behalf of the LDC Group,
submitted a Request for an Extension of the Transitional Period Under
Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement for Least Developed Country Members
with Respect to Pharmaceutical Products and for Waivers from the Obligation
of Articles 70.8 and 70.9 of the TRIPS Agreement (Source: IP/C/W/605). A
key ask in this request is contained in paragraph 12 of the request:

Least developed country Members of the WTO hereby submit a duly motivated
request for an extension of the transitional period (that ends on 1 January
2016) for as long as the WTO Member remains a least developed country.

In the introductory paragraphs of the submission, the LDC requests
highlight the situation facing LDCs in respect of HIV and non-communicable
diseases (including cancer) citing UNDP, UNAIDS, MSF and WHO sources.

2. In 2011, some 9.7 million of the 34 million people living with HIV
worldwide, live in LDCs. Of the people living with HIV in LDCs, 4.6 million
were eligible for antiretroviral (ARV) treatment in accordance with the
2010 World Health Organization HIV treatment guidelines, however only 2.5
million were receiving it.

While the ARV treatment situation may have somewhat improved since the 2001
Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health (WT/MIN(01)/DEC/2), the need remains
significantly great. There are particularly complex challenges for LDCs
with respect to second line HIV treatment which is more than double the
price of the first line regime, and third line HIV treatment which could be
as much as 15 times the price of first line treatment.

3. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has expressed
concern that "without extension of the transition period, access to
antiretroviral therapy and other key medicines in LDCs will face real
challenges" and with "a real danger …progress that has been made to improve
access to HIV-related medicines in these countries will be reversed".

4. LDCs also bear increasing health burdens from non-communicable disease.
For example, cancer incidence is expected to rise 82% from 2008 to 2030 in
low-income countries (compared to 58% in upper-middle and 40% in
high-income countries).

The LDC submission references the UN Human Rights Council Resolution
A/HRC/23/L.10/Rev.1 of 11 June 2013 on access to medicines in the context
of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable
standard of physical and mental health which urged "States to promote
access to medicines for all, including through the use, to the full, of the
provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual
Property Rights which provide flexibility for that purpose."

While acknowledging the impact of the 2016 extension for pharmaceutical
products, the LDC submission notes that,

LDC Members of the WTO continue to face massive health challenges from
communicable and non-communicable diseases. In addition to the
socio-economic and financial constraints, LDCs also lack adequate
technological base and local pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity. These
special needs and circumstances of LDCs, and the vulnerability of LDCs
confirm the need for a renewed transition period for as long as these
constraints remain (Source, Paragraph 10, IP/C/W/605).

In terms of the mechanics of the extension, the LDC Group proposed the
following:

11. Article 66.1 provides that the Council for TRIPS "shall, upon duly
motivated request by a least developed country Member, accord extensions of
this period."

12. Least developed country Members of the WTO hereby submit a duly
motivated request for an extension of the transitional period (that ends on
1 January 2016) for as long as the WTO Member remains a least developed
country.

13. Least developed country Members also request that the TRIPS Council
recommend to the General Council a waiver for LDCs from obligations under
Articles 70.8 and 70.9 of TRIPS for as long as the WTO Member remains a
least developed country.

It remains to be seen if Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan,
Switzerland and the United States will accept this duly motivated request
of the LDC Group, a group that represents "the poorest and weakest segment
of the international community" (Source, Paragraph 1, IP/C/W/605).



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