[Ip-health] Whither WHO Demonstration Projects? Charles Clift of Chatham House responds to M.Moran in Nature

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Feb 20 23:28:09 PST 2014

For Mary Moran's column, please see this link:

Charles Clift*2014-02-20 10:07 PMThis article has the appearance of logic
but actually contains a lot of exaggerations, non-sequiturs, false
dichotomies, and straw men knocked down. To my mind the pilot projects are
a pretty pathetic culmination of ten year's work at WHO - not "giant
strides", not a threat to capitalism as we know it nor a threat to donor
funding of neglected diseases. WHO is referred to as an agency which has
decided "to trial R&D models designed to break commercial patents and
profits." This could not be further from the truth. A more timorous body
than WHO (as a secretariat) in this field could not be imagined. In reality
it was WHO member states, and the impetus was provided by the USA, that
decided that this was the way to go in order to avoid difficult decisions
about rather more substantial proposals made by the 2012 CEWG on Financing
and Coordination for a convention committing governments to greater funding
of R&D in neglected diseases and other areas where the market fails to
deliver for developing countries. If member states had agreed on that, it
would indeed have been a "giant stride" and resulted in more funding for
R&D on these diseases. And it is quite unfair to WHO (the secretariat) to
suggest it is somehow damaging the prospects for funding neglected diseases
- rather the opposite it has played a very significant part in mobilising
such funding. As the article says these pilot projects are half
re-announcements of existing work and half low-innovation tweaks. So they
can hardly have the deleterious effects the article alleges. Some are
worthy in themselves but in the grander scheme of things they are a
non-event. And definitely not something on which one can hang a "WHO hates
patents" conspiracy on.

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