[Ip-health] IP-Watch: New Text Shows Progress Of Negotiation On IP And Access At WHO

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Jan 25 07:42:28 PST 2018


New Text Shows Progress Of Negotiation On IP And Access At WHO


The Brazilian ambassador and others this morning at the World Health
Organization Executive Board meeting were not going to let go what seemed
to be a delaying tactic by the United States and Japan to postpone
agreement on the implementation of measures aimed at facilitating research
and development and access to medicines. The WHO Board today is considering
a set of streamlined strategic measures on public health, innovation, and
intellectual property.

The Board this week is considering a draft decision to take forward
recommendations from an expert group that reviewed the 2008 Global Strategy
and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property
(GSPA, also called GSPOA) (IPW, WHO, 24 January 2017). The Executive Board
is meeting from 22-27 January.

The original draft decision from the secretariat states:

“(1) to take forward the recommendations of the review panel following the
drawing up of a detailed implementation plan, in accordance with the review
panel’s recommendations;

(2) to submit a report on progress made in implementing this decision to
the Seventy-third World Health Assembly in 2020, through the Executive

WHO delegates, meeting in an informal drafting group today, have been
working on two proposed additions to the draft decision: one from Brazil,
one from Canada.

In the floor discussion this morning on the topic, Brazil proposed
approving the expert group recommendations that everyone agrees with, and
organising a discussion around those which do not meet consensus, with a
strict timeframe.

Brazil was supported by a large number of Board members, such as Thailand,
the Netherlands, Libya, Algeria, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Vietnam, Dominican
Republic, Burundi, Benin, and Bahrain.

Canada, meanwhile, said it agreed with setting up a drafting group but only
to make minor modifications, supported by members including France,
Colombia, the Philippines, Italy, Sweden, and Japan.

At press time, a new text of the draft decision, available here, from the
drafting group was being circulated among member states.


The measures were suggested by an 18-member expert group tasked with
reviewing the GSPA. The 10-year-old strategy included 108 carefully
negotiated actions, which member states said were difficult to implement
and to monitor. As a result little has been achieved, in particular in the
area of research and development (R&D) for diseases affecting primarily
developing countries, and access to medicines, according to member states
and the WHO secretariat.

The expert group came up with 33 recommendations [pdf] (page 20), 17 of
which are high priorities. The Board was expected to agree on a draft
decision [pdf], to take the recommendations of the review panel forward,
after a detailed implementation plan is established.

Two recommendations which were not in the original GSPA, and thus not
negotiated, were added by the expert group and have been singled out by
some countries. One of those recommendations relates to the transparency of
the costs of research and development, and the other asks governments to
dedicate 0.01 percent of their budgets to health R&D.

In floor debate this morning on the agenda item (3.7), none of the 34 Board
members appeared to oppose the draft decision at first, although Malta for
the European Union noted the two new recommendations from the expert group,
and Japan asked for time to consider the new recommendations. A number of
members supported the draft decision, and Brazil and Congo, among others,
stressed the urgency and importance of moving the process forward and not
letting it get bogged down in bureaucratic processes.

Among the non-Board members, Switzerland did not support the draft
decision, because the new recommendation on IP does not reflect the
consensus reached in the past. The United States did not support the draft
decision either saying that the transparency on the cost of R&D is not
effective, and could potentially push into abandonment the riskiest areas
of research.

The US requested a drafting group to revise the draft decision, and not
being a Board member, asked for support, which was promptly given by Japan.

Brazil Seeks to Settle Fears

The Brazilian ambassador argued that industry is not at risk, reflecting on
what is happening in the world regarding medicines. “Protection is not at
risk,” she said. “Industry is being protected.”

She said Brazil would reject any proposal to delay the approval of a
decision on the GSPA. There is no question of reopening the World Trade
Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property
Rights (TRIPS), she said, but just to implement all aspects of the

“We are not threatening any industry, we just want a fair process,” Brazil

After Brazil suggested that only Board members should join the drafting
group, the room rustled.

The Chair stopped invited the room to a three minutes physical exercise to
calm tensions, commendably drawing giggles.


The drafting group, meeting at midday, had three texts to consider going
into their meeting: the original draft decision, the Canadian, and the
Brazilian proposals.

Canada suggested that paragraph of the draft decision reads as:

(1) Recommend to draw a detailed implementation plan in consultation with
member states and relevant international organisation considering the
recommendations of the evaluation and the programme review
(2) To submit a detailed implementation plan to the 71st World Health
Assembly for member states consideration

This was opposed by Brazil, who said the Canadian proposal was removing the
concept of taking forward the recommendations of the expert group, taking
the GSPA hostage of consultations once more. Japan agreed with the Canadian

Brazil proposed an additional paragraph be added to the original draft
decision, reading:

“(3) With regards to recommendations x and y, engage, as appropriate, in
consultation with member states, with a view to integrating them into the
implementation plan,” with x and y to be defined.

At press time, the issue was expected to return to the floor as soon as

The three texts have been compiled into one text, showing alternatives.

The Canadian proposal now reads, as (1 ALT) to draw up a detailed
implementation plan, in consultation with member states and relevant
international organisations, considering the recommendations of the
evaluation and the programme review, to prioritise the review panel’s

The Brazilian text is unchanged, as (1bis) (with regard to recommendations
x and y to engage, as appropriate, in consultation with member states, with
a view to integrating them into the implementation plan

The Canadian proposal to have a detailed implementation plan to WHA71
(2019) for member states consideration stands as (2), and unchanged.

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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