[Ip-health] Ambassador Shameem Ahsan (Bangladesh) remarks on UN HLP - Opportunities to Advance Health Technology and Access

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Mar 2 00:52:32 PST 2017


Ambassador Shameem Ahsan (Bangladesh) remarks on UN HLP - Opportunities to
Advance Health Technology and Access

Submitted by thiru <http://keionline.org/user/6> on 2. March 2017 - 10:40

   - WTO <http://keionline.org/taxonomy/term/509>

On 1 March 2017, Bangladesh, Brazil, India and South Africa, the
Secretariat of the United Nations Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on
Access to Medicines and the South Centre convened a side event at the World
Trade Organization (WTO) on the United Nations Secretary-General's High
Level Panel on Access to Medicines: Opportunities to Advance Health
Technology and Access. This event took place on the margins of the WTO
TRIPS Council.

Shameem Ahsan, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the People's
Republic of Bangladesh to the United Nations Office and other international
organizations in Geneva, intervened on the subject of the relevance of the
UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel's Report for Least Developed WTO
Members. The full text of Ambassador Ahsan's remarks are reproduced below.

Dear Dr. Suerie Moon,
Excellency Madam Ruth Dreifuss,
Excellency Mr. Celso Amorim,
Excellency Mr. Evandro Didonet
and Professor Carlos Correa.

Good afternoon.

This is a great honour to be included in this august panel to discuss such
an important topic which concerns well-being of every living human at
varying degrees. It is true that we are now witnessing the progress of the
fourth industrial revolution. Science and technology had never facilitated
our life better than today. However, we think that the humanity today is at
a crossroads. On one hand the scientific knowledge, technological
developments, infrastructure and productive capabilities are tremendously
benefitting few of us while majority are still out of the benefits
originating from them and many a times these advancements are creating more
divide than gains for everyone due to our own gaps and failures. Against
this backdrop, while we consider that right to life is the most fundamental
right, then the next most immediate right, i.e., right to health cannot be
far behind. With this goal in view, we are fortunate to have this report of
the High Level Panel, to ensure and establish our right to health and
subsequently, the right to life and achievement of SDG 3.

Though access to health and medicine are equally important for all the
countries, either developed, developing or LDC, but when it comes to
ensuring physical access, the LDCs are the hardest hit. The report put
forward many important general recommendations applicable for all the
countries irrespective of level of development. It firstly mentioned the
lack of development of medicines for Neglected Tropical Diseases from which
an estimated 1.7 billion peoples are suffering. To overcome this, the
report observed that coordinated and collaborative efforts of
public-private partnerships and product development partnerships (PDPs) had
been key to bringing together the resources and strengths of the private,
philanthropic and public sectors to innovate and deliver several important
health technologies. Here, both private and public sectors in the LDCs are
extremely weak to undertake any such collaboration and investment. To
implement this recommendation, LDCs will need active support and transfer
of technology from the developed countries and their private enterprises.

LDCs will whole-heartedly support the recommendation to make full use of
the TRIPS flexibilities. Since LDCs have been granted a generously long
transition period under the TRIPS Agreement in terms of pharmaceutical
products, I would urge all LDCs to adopt and implement legislation that
facilitates the quick, fair and predictable issuance of compulsory licenses
as per requirement. We are aware that many countries still don’t have
enabling legislation to take advantage of the provisions and LDC government
s should enact supporting rules and regulations as early as possible. To
complement this, the Paragraph 6 system is now officially a part of TRIPS
Agreement. This should enable swift and expedient export of biomedical
products from countries with production capacity to LDCs without production
capacity. However, this will require genuine goodwill from the producers of
medicine and the governments and the administrative authorities to
facilitate production and transport unencumbered by any contrary
supply-side or administrative action.

Balancing and rationalizing priorities in any free trade agreements is
another recommendation that LDCs need to pay particular attention to as we
see appearance of more and more FTAs and RTAs every day. In case of an LDC
being member of any FTA or RTA, Governments and the private sectors of
other members of the same FTA/RTA must refrain from explicit or implicit
threats, tactics or strategies that undermine the use of TRIPS
flexibilities. In that case, we also agree that such instances of undue
political and economic pressure should / could be reported to the WTO
Secretariat during the Trade Policy Review of those WTO Members. We also
side with the recommendation that the LDC Governments should undertake
public health impact assessments before they enter into such agreements.

The Report recommends that public funders of research must require that
knowledge generated from such research be made freely and widely available
in peer-reviewed literature. Universities and research institutions that
receive public funding should adopt policies that promote biomedical
research and knowledge that benefits the public health objectives over
financial returns in patenting and licensing practices, for example
non-exclusive licensing, participation in public sector pools, and donation
of intellectual property. However, public funding in LDCs are not very
common and I would proposed that any patent originating from any LDC public
fund, should not be disclosed to public domain and LDCs or their concerned
entities should enjoy natural commercial benefit and data exclusivity which
is associated with usual patent rights

As mentioned in the report, LDCs also would like to see a binding R&D
convention that delinks the costs of R&D from the end prices and we are
happy to participate in any negotiation to establish a Working Group for
preparing a Code of Principles for Biomedical R&D. However, as LDCs acutely
lack in resources, it may not be possible for them to arrange, incentivize
and reward public health R&D. So an alternative source or model of funding
is required. In this connection, if the developed countries sincerely carry
out their obligations under TRIPS articles 66.2 and 67, this gap of fund
and technology would be greatly reduced.

LDCs also want to see implementation of the recommendation of the report
that all the Governments, both from the developed, developing and least
developed countries, would deal the issue of access to medicine in the
light of human rights principles. However, we must remember that for the
LDCs, beleaguered by multi-faceted political, economic and environmental
problems, ensuring any kind of rights to its people is always an uphill
task and we would request everybody to be patient if they appear to be slow
to deliver on this particular issue. To avoid gaps and duplication, LDCs
also support the Panel for an independent review body tasked with assessing
progress on health technology innovation and access and also an
inter-agency taskforce to increase coherence between multilateral
organizations working on the same issue of health technology innovation and
access. We hope that the proposed UN General Assembly Special Session on
health technology innovation and access could be convened by 2018.

At this stage, I must say the there are various factors which may impede
access to required medicine in the LDCs but the single most important
factor is the cost and especially the cost of the patented medicines. LDCs
would really like to make all manufacturers and distributors to disclose
the cost of R&D, production marketing and distribution of their products,
with each category separated, as suggested in the report. Because marketing
and distribution in an LDC will be of a fraction of the cost that is
incurred in a developed country and this will in turn reduce the price of
the medicine substantially in the LDCs. Data for clinical trial should also
be made public for the same reason. The WHO should establish and maintain a
database of prices of patented, generic and biosimilar medicines in
countries where they are registered and similarly, with the help of WIPO,
all Governments should establish and maintain publicly accessible databases
with patent information status on medicines and vaccines including standard
names for biological products, international non-proprietary names, dates
of patent grant and expiry.

LDCs now enjoy longer transition period under the TRIPS Agreement for the
pharmaceutical products and we now also have the TRIPS Agreement amendment
of the Paragraph 6 proposal. However, availability of a legal provision
does not necessarily guarantee implementation and assure any benefit if the
very capacity to utilize the opportunity is missing. The limits we confront
are actually limits to our thought. The report of the High-Level Panel is a
very significant and bold step which has been due for quite long time. The
report calls for change of not only the current IP-production-marketing
regime, it also calls for change of our ideas and approaches. Some more
useful observations and recommendations could not be included in the report
due to lack of consensus. However, LDCs would expect that we will use
occasions at different fora to raise and discuss the report so that we may
find out a way to implement the worthwhile recommendations for the benefit
of all.

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