[Ip-health] TWN Statement patents and public health

Sangeeta Shashikant sangeeta at twnetwork.org
Wed Dec 14 06:07:16 PST 2016

Patents and Public Health at the 25th Session of the SCP
Statement by Third World Network
It is widely recognized that a major barrier to access to affordable
medicines is intellectual property, in particular patents. The WTO Doha
Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health expressed concerns about the effects
of IP on prices, confirming that the agreement does not and should not
prevent Members from taking measures to protect public health.
High prices as a result of intellectual property is not just a concern in
developing countries but also in developed countries.
This is increasingly clear as cancer and hepatitis C treatments are priced
beyond what is affordable even to developed country governments.  For
example a one-time treatment of Hepatitis C using Sofosbuvir costs for one
person between 48,000 and 96,000 Euros. This is due to IP related monopoly
held by the pharmaceutical companies. These prices are not sustainable for
any government. And many people die simply because they have no access to
Given WIPO¹s mandate on IP, having a discussion on patents and health is
critical and it is imperative to have a concrete work-programme. On this we
would like to make a few points:
First we believe that SCP/24/4 and SCP16/7 provides a good basis for a
work-programme on patents and health.
Second - it is important for the SCP to invite the co-chairs of the UN
Secretary General¹s High Level Report on Access to Medicines to present the
report as well as for the SCP to discuss recommendations of the Report,
after all WIPO is a specialized agency of the UN. And the UN HLP report was
constituted in furtherance of the 2030 SDGs, to which WIPO is suppose to be
Some delegations mentioned that the Report was not a member state report and
thus should not be discussed. We would like to point out that the Trilateral
Study between WTO, WIPO and WHO was not a member state report and yet it was
presented and discussed in the SCP.
Further compared to the Trilateral report, the process leading to the UNHLP
report involved an inclusive and participatory process that included member
states, civil society, industry, academics as well as international
organizations including WIPO. It also recognized that there may be some
dissenting voices on the matter.
So it would be unacceptable for WIPO, a UN agency to refuse to recognize a
High Level report of the UN and to consider its recommendations.
We do not see how a discussion on the UNHLP is beyond the remit of this SCP.
Third- We call upon the SCP to specifically discuss the UNHLP recommendation
³Governments should establish and maintain publicly accessible databases
with patent information status and data on medicines and vaccines. This
information should be periodically updated and consolidated by WIPO in
collaboration with stakeholders to develop an international, easily
searchable database which should include: (1) standard international common
names for biological products; (2) international non-proprietary names for
products, either as known at the time of application or after the granting
of a patent; and (3) dates of grant and expiry.²
as well as the recommendation that UN agencies such as UNDP, UNCTAD and WHO
and WIPO should support governments to apply public health-sensitive
patentability criteria.
We believe these should be a priority for this committee.
Fourth ­ the study that is to be prepared by the Secretariat on national
experiences in using flexibilities as well as the challenges for SCP 26
should be done in consultation with UN agencies that were involved in the
UNHLP -  those are UNAIDS, UNDP.  It would also greatly enrich the Study if
the wider public were allowed to submit their contributions.

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