[Ip-health] TRIPS Council June 2015: Norway provides unequivocal support of LDC Group request for extension of the transition period

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed Jun 17 08:45:37 PDT 2015


http://keionline.org/node/2252

On Wednesday, 10 June 2015, Norway - a high-income member of the WTO with a
GDP per capita of 100,898 USD- (Source: World Bank, 2013) delivered this
powerful intervention supporting the LDC Group request for an extension of
the transition period for pharmaceutical products. On the LDC Group's
specific request on extension until graduation, Norway said,


We also support the request that the extension and waivers shall last as
long as a member remains a LDC. As we know, a member does not
self-designate itself as an LDC. That status depends on particular
socio-economic indicators. As long as a member is an LDC, it will have
institutional and financial constraints, as well as lack of adequate
technological base and pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity. It will
therefore need flexibility and maximum policy space to enable it to
confront its health challenges with effective and affordable strategies. An
extension for as long as a member is an LDC will also ensure legal
certainty and predictability, which may contribute to keeping costs for
medicine down and ensuring investment in the pharmaceutical sector of the
LDCs.

Here is the statement in full.

As delivered

TRIPS COUNCIL MEETING 9 AND 10 JUNE 2015

11. REQUEST FOR AN EXTENSION OF THE TRANSITIONAL PERIOD UNDER ARTICLE 66.1
FOR LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRY MEMBERS WITH RESPECT TO PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS
AND FOR WAIVERS FROM THE OBLIGATIONS OF ARTICLES 70.8 AND 70.9

Statement by Norway

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good morning colleagues.

Norway would like to thank the LDCs for their submission, and for
explaining it in more detail yesterday.

Norway recognizes the gravity of the public health challenges faced by the
LDCs. Indeed, the representative of Uganda yesterday painted a stark and
troubling, yet realistic, picture of the situation on the ground in the
LDCs. In our view, the TRIPS Agreement should not prevent members, and
particularly those in dire need like many of the LDCs, from taking measures
to protect public health. In this regard, access to affordable medicines is
particularly important.

Norway acknowledges the relationship between the protection of patent
rights and pricing of patented drugs. Access to essential medicines depends
heavily on prices. This is particularly true for members who have neither
the production capacity nor the means to provide prevention, treatment or
care for their inhabitants.

With this in mind, Norway fully supports the LDCs’ request for an extension
of the transition period under article 66.1 as regards pharmaceuticals. We
also support the request for waivers from the obligations of Articles 70.8
and 70.9 of the TRIPS Agreement with respect to pharmaceuticals.

Norway notes that the LDCs have been granted a general extension of the
transition period up until 2021. We still see merits in a particular
extension of the transition period for the provisions in question as
regards pharmaceuticals. In our view, this would ensure the legal certainty
that the LDCs and the relevant operators need in order to ensure access to
medicines vital to life and health.

We also support the request that the extension and waivers shall last as
long as a member remains a LDC. As we know, a member does not
self-designate itself as an LDC. That status depends on particular
socio-economic indicators. As long as a member is an LDC, it will have
institutional and financial constraints, as well as lack of adequate
technological base and pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity. It will
therefore need flexibility and maximum policy space to enable it to
confront its health challenges with effective and affordable strategies. An
extension for as long as a member is an LDC will also ensure legal
certainty and predictability, which may contribute to keeping costs for
medicine down and ensuring investment in the pharmaceutical sector of the
LDCs.

To conclude, Norway is of the firm opinion that the request from the LDCs
is “duly motivated” and we call upon the Council to grant the extension in
accordance with Article 66.1, as well as recommend to the General Council
that the requested waivers be adopted.



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