[Ip-health] Statement of MSF to Eighteenth Session of WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP)

Hafiz Aziz-ur- Rehman aziz76pk at yahoo.com
Wed May 23 07:27:59 PDT 2012

Thanks Mr. Chairman.

I am speaking on behalf of Médecins sans Frontières International. MSF is an
independent medical humanitarian organisation that works in over 65 countries
around the world.

MSF reiterates
its support to the proposal of the Africa Group and Development Agenda Group.
We are however very concerned with the proposal submitted by the United States
Government as we consider it is a step backward in the very promising
discussions at WIPO on patents and health. The US government proposal seems to
be based on several assumptions on the relationship between patents and global
health, which does not reflect our experience providing medical care in many
developing countries, where we are confronted with a range of access and
innovation barriers including those related to patent system. Our field
experience shows that accessing affordable quality drugs  can be restricted due to patents, for example
in relation to treatments for HIV. This problem is increasing with the full
implementation of the WTO TRIPS Agreement in countries with existing and
prospective generic production capabilities. It is therefore vital that
developing countries make full use of the range of flexibilities as one of the
tools that allow such barriers to be overcome in order to ensure continued
access to affordable medicines.  The US position also
contradicts Member States-agreed consensus in the WTO Doha Declaration on TRIPS
and Public Health and the WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public
Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property. 


MSF would
highlight three areas to the Committee and its Member States
for particular consideration as part of its ongoing work

First; the issue
of transparency and access to patent related information is critical for us and
other treatment providers to make decisions about treatment options and
procurement. For example, MSF has an extensive experience of treating people
living with HIV/AIDS and we have been reporting continuously through our annual
pricing publication, Untangling the Web, that tracking relevant patent related
information about a drug  and what
patents are in force in a particular country is 
often extremely difficult. There can be multiple patents on specific
drugs making it difficult in finding the relevant patents because of lack of uniformity
in how patents are described. The patent situation of different drugs can be so
complex that the drug procurers like MSF often do not get full information
about patent status in the countries where we work. We suggest that WIPO, building
on the work it has already done with the Medicines Patent Pool and patent
offices to develop a patent database for certain HIV medicines, should consider
the development of a database for all medicines and/or should offer  on demand assistance to requests from
procurers of medicines to identify 
with  relevant patent offices all
the active patents in the  country
related to specific  medicines and make
the information public so that others can use it for further  patent searches. 


yesterday a considerable time was spent discussing different aspects of quality
of patents.  It is particularly important
in the field of medicines that patents are only granted that meet robust
patentability criteria. However, a number of developing countries do not
undertake substantive patent examination. Without a substantive patent
examination system developing countries cannot fully benefit from different
flexibilities mentioned in the TRIPS Agreement, like the capacity to define
patentability criteria that promotes public health and prevent bogus or
evergreeing patents being granted.  There
is little information on the ways in which developing countries could implement
feasible and functional examination systems suitable for their domestic needs
and public health priorities. It would be useful for a study to be undertaken
on the different costs and structures of examination systems in developing


Third; the
important role of patent opposition system should be noted as an important
mechanism to increase patent quality. The opposition system, both pre-grant and
post-grant, is crucial to ensure that all information is reviewed and thoroughly
scrutinized by national patent offices. In India, for example, the use of
opposition system has led to the rejection of patent applications of doubtful
quality on vital HIV drugs for example tenofovir, darunavir, and child friendly
versions of nevirapine in syrup form, allowing generic companies manufacture,
supply and export these AIDS medicines to the rest of the developing world.  The incorporation of an opposition system in
developing country patent laws has shown to be a key public health safeguard. 


Thank you Chair 


Hafiz Aziz ur Rehman
Legal & Policy Advisor
 Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign
Rue de Lausanne 78
1211 Geneva, Switzerland
azeez.rehman at gmail.com
Skype: rehmanh


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