[Ip-health] MSF intervention on Access to essential medicines at WHO EB

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Fri Jan 24 01:45:50 PST 2014

134th WHO EXECUTIVE BOARD – Agenda item 9.7
Access to essential medicines
Intervention by Rohit Malpani, Médecins Sans Frontières International


Médecins Sans Frontières welcomes calls for Member States and WHO to
strengthen essential medicines mechanisms. However, MSF is concerned by the
lack of attention in the Secretariat’s report on the impact intellectual
property has on the affordability and accessibility of medicines, and how
this affects the inclusion of new treatments in essential medicines lists.

The intersection between intellectual property, innovation and public
health is recognized in a number of WHO resolutions and in the TRIPS
Agreement. Yet it remains a challenge for WHO member states, especially
developing countries, to use these flexibilities when drafting intellectual
property policies that aim to promote access to affordable essential

Events in South Africa last week illustrate that multinational
pharmaceutical companies will go to great lengths to protect profit
margins, even when it comes at the expense of people’s lives, and involves
the covert derailing of government policies aiming to balance intellectual
property, public health and access to medicines. Such attacks on urgently
needed reform are unacceptable in a country facing one of the world’s most
acute HIV and TB epidemics, with medicine prices up to 35 times higher than
countries with more robust generic competition.

Also of grave concern are intellectual property clauses included in trade
negotiations initiated by the United States and the European Union. The
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is especially worrying, and TRIPS-plus
provisions, if accepted, would have a severe adverse impact on public
health in developing countries.

The draft resolution on access to essential medicines is a timely and
invaluable opportunity for Member States and the Secretariat to reaffirm
the political commitment of promoting access to essential medicines through
the use of TRIPS flexibilities. MSF urges WHO to play a greater role in the
developing world to counter industry’s influence, and ensure countries
preserve their ability to enact TRIPS flexibilities and access more
affordable medicines.

Joanna Keenan
Press Officer
Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign
P: +41 22 849 87 45
M: +41 79 203 13 02
E: joanna.keenan[at]geneva.msf.org
T: @joanna_keenan


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