[Ip-health] KEI Statement on World Health Assembly resolution on Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination

Jamie Love james.love at keionline.org
Sat May 26 03:52:42 PDT 2012


KEI Statement on World Health Assembly resolution on Consultative
Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and

A number of developing countries worked together to push the World
Health Assembly to create a member state process to consider the
implementation of the CEWG.  The most important CEWG recommendations
are to begin work on a new WHO Convention on R&D financing, and to
de-link R&D costs from drug prices.

During the past week, the US and several European countries tried to
slow down, marginalize and block progress on the CEWG.  The US role
was the most visible and aggressive, and indeed, often shocking in
terms of the tone and tactics employed.  The extreme negativity of the
US position has raised concerns about the future prospects of reaching
an agreement on the financing of R&D.

Not entirely obvious were the role of pharmaceutical companies and the
Gates Foundation.  The pharmaceutical industry had a highly
coordinated strategy of only saying things in public that were seen as
neutral or positive about the R&D treaty proposal, and the IFPMA
statement today at the WHA on the adoption of the resolution was well
received by health NGOs.  On the other hand, privately some pharma
companies lobbied delegates to block any mention of a convention or
any other binding instrument, and one complained bitterly of the
notion that new products should be seen as "global public goods."
There was a report that the pharmaceutical industry had met with the
Danish government before the meeting to lobby against the R&D
Convention.  The Danes currently hold the EU presidency.

For the USA, several departments and agencies (DHHS, State, USPTO and
USTR) worked closely together to try to block the core CEWG
recommendations, and pushed a number of standard PhRMA talking points,
such as advocating extended market exclusivity and subsidies of drug
product prices as a better approach than "de-linkage" or products as
public goods.  Given the extensive and aggressive nature of the US
government in the WHA negotiations, as well as in the related WIPO
negotiations on patents and health, many assume that the Obama White
House has taken a direct interest in the global health issues, and
that this is connected to Obama's efforts (and struggles) to raise
corporate money for his reelection campaign.

The ties between Obama's fund-raising efforts and the Obama positions
on global health issues was earlier acknowledged by White House
staffers, in connection with White House decision to block references
to the Doha Declaration in a UN resolution on non-communicable
diseases. Health groups hope that the Obama Administration will change
and become less controlled by big pharma after the election, since
Obama will never run for another elected office.  But, once bought,
some politicians stay bought.

The role of the Gates Foundation on the CEWG is less clear, in part
because much of what the Gates Foundation does is deliberately done
behind the scenes, or through surrogates. Despite the fact that the
CEWG was trying to raise billions of dollars in new R&D funding for
Type II and III diseases, the only Gates funded PDP to support the
initiative was the MSF affiliated DNDi.  Apparently the Gates
Foundation declined multiple requests to meet with key advocates of
the treaty proposal before the WHA.  It was also revealing that none
of the extensive network of Gates funded journalists covered the R&D
treaty negotiations.

Among the developing countries, the Union of South America Nations
(UNASUR) played a very important role, with Brazil, Argentina and
Bolivia as the most effective advocates.  During the negotiations on
the text, the strongest advocate from Asia was Bangladesh, led by
Faiyaz Murshid Kazi, one of the most respected and talented
negotiators from the Geneva missions.  Dr Viroj Tangcharoensathien of
Thailand chaired the drafting group, often relying upon his
extraordinary wit, humor and charm to relax tensions and focus
delegates on "delivery of the baby."  India was not as active as
people had expected, and China, now the second largest economy in the
World, sent mixed messages.  From the African region, Kenya tabled an
ambitious and timely resolution advocated effectively in public forums
by Ambassador H.E. Dr. Tom Mboya Okeyo. Malebona Precious Matsoso of
South Africa was quite supportive.  For many developing countries, it
was difficult to monitor or participate in the extended negotiations,
due in part to the many competing demands on their time with the
entire WHA agenda, as well as the concurrent WIPO discussions on
patents and health.

The South Centre was quite important, with Carlos Correa and German
Velasquez both serving on national delegations and participating in
the resolution drafting group.  The United States blocked the CEWG
Chair and Vice Chair from attending the drafting sessions, but Chair
John-Arne Røttingen (Norway) and Vice Chair Claudia Inês Chamas
(Brazil)  monitored the proceedings and met with negotiators during
the week.   A number of NGOs were in Geneva to work on the CEWG
resolution negotiations, including MSF, HAI, TWN, the People's Health
Movement, UAEM and KEI.

While the press coverage of the meeting was limited, stories by Zach
Carter in the Huffington Post and Agathe Duparc in Le Monde during the
negotiations seemed have to have had an impact on the positions of the
US and French delegations.

Now KEI and others will begin to focus on the next negotiation, which
will probably happen after the US election in early November.  Among
those preparations will be analysis of the substantive approaches,
such as the current limits on the types of R&D to be addressed.

James Love.  Knowledge Ecology International
http://www.keionline.org, +1.202.332.2670, US Mobile: +1.202.361.3040,
Geneva Mobile: +41.76.413.6584, efax: +1.888.245.3140.

More information about the Ip-health mailing list