[Ip-health] The WHO "Red Book" on Access to Medicines and Intellectual Property - 20 Years Later

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Sun Nov 22 02:16:30 PST 2015

Announcing a New Book from the South Centre

The WHO "Red Book" on Access to Medicines and Intellectual Property - 20
Years Later

Available now in PDF

Paperback available in January 2016 – Pre-order now!

Geneva, 2015

184 pages


ISBN 978-92-9162-045-6

The South Centre recently published the book The WHO “Red Book” on Access
to Medicines and Intellectual Property – 20 Years Later, authored by Germán
Velásquez and Pascale Boulet.

The publication in 1998 by the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Essential
Drugs Department of the document “Globalization and Access to Drugs:
Implications of the WTO/TRIPS Agreement” marked a point in time in the
movement to ensure access to essential medicines for all. It had been
drafted to implement a 1996 World Health Assembly resolution that
constituted the first mandate given by countries to WHO to work on
intellectual property in relation to health. The publication, often
referred to as ‘the WHO red book’, marked the beginning of an international
policy process to address the issue of innovation and access to essential

The WHO publication triggered a series of reactions from the pharmaceutical
industry, the US Government and the World Trade Organization, reproaching
WHO for stepping out of its role. In light of these attacks, the then
Director General of WHO, G.H. Brundtland, decided to send the document to
be revised by three independent academics specializing in intellectual

This book marks the anniversary of these two decades later.  It contains
the contents of the original WHO document; and also reproduces the letters
and documents criticizing the WHO publication; as well as the review by the
three international experts.

The book also contains a Preface by Bernard Pécoul, the Executive Director
of Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative.

The issues that the original report warned about – high prices of medicines
caused by patent monopoly – are just as relevant today. People living with
HIV/AIDS in developing countries were dying because they could not afford
the life-saving new antiretroviral treatments priced between USD10,000 and
USD12,000 a year. Today, an increasing number of new medicines are
protected by patents in the developing world and remain priced out of reach
of patients and governments, as illustrated by cancer drugs and the new,
very effective drug against hepatitis C priced at USD1,000/pill in the US.
The escalation of prices of new patented medicines is already leading to
unjustifiable medical access restrictions even in developed countries.

About the Authors

Germán Velásquez is Special Adviser for Health and Development at the South
Centre in Geneva, Switzerland. Until May 2010, he was Director of the WHO
Secretariat on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property, at the
Director General’s Office, in Geneva. He is a pioneer in the debate on
health, intellectual property (IP) and access to medicines.

Pascale Boulet is a lawyer specializing in international public law with
over 15 years’ experience in public health, international pharmaceutical
and IP policies. She has worked with various public health organizations as
IP and policy adviser, including the Drugs for Neglected Diseases
initiative (DNDi), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Campaign for Access to
Essential Medicines and the WHO Department on Essential Medicines. She now
works as an independent consultant in medicines law and policy.

We ask for a financial contribution of CHF 12.00 for the Paperback and CHF
6.00 for the PDF, to meet the costs of processing and delivery to you.

To order this book, please contact: bernardo at southcentre.int

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