[Ip-health] Intervention by Médecins Sans Frontières at the WIPO General Assembly

Michelle.VILK at geneva.msf.org Michelle.VILK at geneva.msf.org
Fri Sep 24 08:10:41 PDT 2010

Intervention by Médecins Sans Frontières’ (MSF) Campaign for Access to

Essential Medicines at the WIPO General Assembly 24 September 2010 Agenda

item 28 ii Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP)

Delivered by Michelle Childs Director of Policy Advocacy

Thank you Mr. Chairman

I am speaking on behalf of Médecins Sans Frontières’ access to essential

medicines campaign. MSF is an independent medical humanitarian organisation

that works in over 65 countries around the world.

Our medical staff in the field are repeatedly confronted with problems of

access to essential medicines. In addition, medicines, vaccines and

diagnostic tools are not available due to a focus on research and

development for profitable markets.

Intellectual property and specifically patents affect prices, availability

and innovation for these desperately needed medical tools.  We have been

able to start and scale up treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS

because of generic competition that led to lower prices for AIDS medicines.

This was possible because diverse national patent systems and practices

exist. But today we are looking with concern to the future when our

patients will need access to new medicines, while the supply of affordable

versions may not be available with the full implementation of the TRIPS

agreement and continuous pressure on developing countries to limit health

safeguards in domestic patent legislation.

The world is living through a time of increased financial constraint but

the health needs are not constrained. In such times the tension between

intellectual property protection and public health becomes more acute, and

the need for pro-public health patenting systems becomes even more


We cannot accept a world in which the fruits of innovation can only be

enjoyed by the wealthy. We believe that WIPO can and should play a more

active role in addressing the access to medicines crisis.  As a UN agency,

and in order to mainstream the development agenda, this requires the work

of all of the Committees of WIPO, including those on enforcement, to ensure

that there is a prior evidence based analysis of the effect on public

health and access to medicines of any new provisions proposed.

We specifically urge WIPO and member States:

      Ø	To ensure that the SCP committee’s  work is balanced and  also

         reflects  the need to use to the full the flexibilities of the

         TRIPS agreement to promote access to medicines for all;

      Ø	To engage in the debate on how to stimulate health needs driven

         research and development , including  flexible IP mechanisms, to

         make the fruits of medical innovations available to all who need


      Ø	That Member States do not move ahead with proposals on the law of

         patents without an independent assessment of the likely effect on

         public health.  The SCP has made an important start on this by

         commissioning independent reports on exceptions and limitations as

         they apply to public health. We urge members to ensure that such

         reports are fully reviewed and further studies commissioned;

      Ø	To  support  WIPO’s   patent  database project to make it easier

         to find out where patents are filed - an important factor in

         medicines procurement decisions;

      Ø	To continue the recent joint initiatives of WIPO, the World Trade

         Organization and the World Health Organization, to inform their

         work, by convening stakeholders, such as MSF, to share our

         practical experiences of procuring and supplying medicines and the

         challenges we face including patent barriers and

         anticounterfeiting legislation that threaten our ability to

         source, store, transit and import the medicines our patients need.

Thank you Mr Chairman and distinguished delegates for your attention.


Kind regards,

Michelle Vilk

Coordination and Communications Assistant
Médecins Sans Frontières
Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines
Rue de Lausanne 78
1211 Geneva, Switzerland
Tel: + 41(0) 22 849 89 02
Fax: + 41 (0) 22 849 84 04
michelle.vilk at geneva.msf.org

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