[Ip-health] MSF UNAIDS PCB Intellectual Property intervention

Joanna Keenan joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Thu Dec 8 07:27:37 PST 2016

*MSF intervention on UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board Intellectual
Property *


MSF welcomes the report from UNAIDS on intellectual property issues related
to diagnosis and treatment of HIV.  The report confirms the challenges that
IP barriers create for MSF since we started treating people living with HIV
over fifteen years ago. We encourage UNAIDS to keep working on this issue
as it is critical to ensure access to affordable medicines.
Today, MSF continues to face serious IP barriers to access affordable
medicines and diagnostic tools that assure optimal care for our patients
with HIV as well as co-infections such as tuberculosis and hepatitis C.
For instance, in the absence of generic competition due to patent and
regulatory barriers, the lowest cost of providing a third line ART regimen
is about 17.4 times higher than the lowest cost for first line treatment.
We expect that these barriers will only become more problematic, especially
in middle-income countries. By 2020, 80 percent of all people living with
HIV will live in middle-income countries.  Yet it is these countries that
face multiple threats – flat-lining or declining funding; stricter
intellectual property rules for medicines and health technologies
demanded through free trade agreements, especially by the United States,
the European Union and Japan; higher medicine prices charged by drug
companies who take advantage of the power granted to them under monopolies;
and exclusion from industry-led voluntary measures such as voluntary

UNAIDS has played a critical role around the world highlighting the
challenges of intellectual property barriers, providing a voice to people
living with HIV that otherwise cannot have a say in these discussions.
UNAIDS has also been vital in documenting and speaking out against the
negative impacts of strict intellectual property rules.

We urge UNAIDS to continue to play a central role in ensuring that these IP
barriers do not undermine access to medicines. UNAIDS provides value in
documenting the negative impact of IP barriers, in calling for solutions
such as the use of public health safeguards under the TRIPS Agreement or
through voluntary licensing, and in warning against harmful IP provisions
in free trade agreements.

We also note that UNAIDS should play a role in looking beyond just the high
cost of drugs due to IP barriers, and start examining the role that IP
plays in leading to higher costs for diagnostics, especially for viral load
testing.  We hope that UNAIDS can look at how IP discourages innovation
that addresses the needs of neglected populations, especially children with
HIV.   In fact the impact of IP on access to medicines and innovation is
just starting to be felt by public health programs.

It has never been more important for UNAIDS and governments to address IP
barriers, especially in the wake of the UN High Level Panel Report on
Access to Medicines that the UN Secretary General has welcomed and asked
for appropriate follow up. The IP mandate for UNAIDS has just started. The
next step is for UNAIDS to consider the relevant recommendations in the UN
High Level Panel Report that UNAIDS itself or through support to Member
States can help advance.
We look forward to UNAIDS continuing to play a central role defending the
well-being of people living with HIV, and ensuring affordable medicines for
people around the world, including the people MSF treats every day.

Thank you.

*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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