[Ip-health] NGOs across world expresses concerns over WHO's association with IMPACT

Sangeeta ssangeeta at myjaring.net
Fri May 14 22:15:20 PDT 2010

Pharmabiz, May 14th, 2010
NGOs across world expresses concerns over WHO's association with IMPACT

Friday, May 14, 2010 08:00 IST
Suja Nair Shirodkar, Mumbai

Concerned over the nature and extent of World Health Organisation (WHO)¹s
endorsement of IMPACT, 44 public interest organisations across the world
have joined hands in expressing their displeasure in an open letter to WHO.
The letter addressed to Dr Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO states
that WHO¹s should refrain from involving itself in the issue of counterfeits
since it will have adverse consequences for access to affordable medicines
while failing to address real problem of proliferation of pharmaceuticals
with compromised quality, safety and efficacy.

It states that the WHO's involvement with IMPACT legitimises the TRIPS plus
IP enforcement agenda pushed by OECD governments and businesses and
undermines public health. Approach adopted by IMPACT is not proper since it
fails to address the root causes for the proliferation of pharmaceuticals
with compromised quality and safety in particular, the high price of
pharmaceutical products. This results in inequitable access and the problem
of weak regulatory capacity in developing countries in terms of facilities,
financial and human resources.

It warns that if WHO will continue to get itsself associated with IMPACT it
will threaten to undermine WHO¹s credibility as an organisation that is
impartial and upholds the interests of public health. It implies that the
WHO Secretariat should explore use of other terminologies through
member-driven process to capture the problem of pharmaceuticals with
compromised quality, safety and efficacy substituting the term counterfeit
which is already defined in the TRIPS Agreement.

The letter clearly expresses the NGO's dislike over WHO's close contact with
IMPACT and have asked WHO to distance itself from the organisation, its
activities, draft principles and elements and also to stop functioning as
the Secretariat of IMPACT. It letter demands, ³WHO to withdraw its logo from
all IMPACT documents and ensure that it does not endorse any other
activities that promotes the IP enforcement agenda.²

The letter expects the WHO to reorient its programme towards addressing the
real causes and solutions to pharmaceuticals with compromised quality,
safety and efficacy in particular, focus its attention to dealing with high
prices of pharmaceuticals, ensuring timely availability of affordable
pharmaceuticals, as well as strengthening the capacity drug regulatory

At a time when millions of people still go without the medicines they need
due to high prices, ongoing WHO participation in IMPACT is a major step in
the wrong direction. Enabling the pharmaceutical industry to aggressively
enforce intellectual property rights in developing countries does nothing to
lower medicine prices or improve the quality of medicines.

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