[Ip-health] Open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) and its Member States on the proposal by Costa Rica to create a global pool for rights in the data, knowledge and technologies useful in the prevention, detection and treatment of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Fri Mar 27 05:40:35 PDT 2020

Open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) and its Member States on
the proposal by Costa Rica to create a global pool for rights in the data,
knowledge and technologies useful in the prevention, detection and
treatment of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic

Posted on March 27, 2020 by James Love


March 27, 2020.

We are writing to ask the WHO and its Member States to support the proposal
by Costa Rica for the creation of a global pooling mechanism for rights in
the data, knowledge and technologies useful in the prevention, detection
and treatment of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

(Copy of letter from Carlos Alvarado Quesada, Presidente de la República,
Costa Rica, and Daniel Salas Peraza, Ministro de Salud, Costa Rica, to Dr.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health
Organization, available here

Costa Rica correctly saw this as a pool with a diverse set of rights,
including those relating to patents on inventions and designs, regulatory
test data, research data including outcomes, know-how, cell lines,
copyrights and blueprints for manufacturing, as these rights relate to
equipment, diagnostic tests, devices, medicines, vaccines, and other
medical tools.

Such a pool would allow for competitive and accelerated production of
needed COVID-19 technologies, and expand our capacity to address the need
for affordable products for all.

The inputs to such a pool could come from governments that fund research
and development or buy innovative products, as well as from universities,
research institutes, charities, private companies and individuals who
control rights.

The WHO should immediately reach out to Member States that are funding
biomedical research relevant to the current pandemic, and engage other
rights holders as well.

We recognize that some governments and other entities may be reluctant to
openly share technologies globally, such as by open licensing or licensing
on reasonable and affordable royalties, when there is uncertainty about
whether others will make similar commitments.

To move forward as quickly as possible, and consistent with the Costa Rica
proposal, the WHO can put forth an initial phase-one agreement that creates
the bare minimum legal basis to permit such assignments/licenses in the
future, such as by including options in funding contracts, and create a
process for working out the details at a later date, including the ultimate
decisions on which technologies to share, and the terms of the
authorizations, including possible remuneration. As rights holders work
with the WHO and deepen their understanding of the challenges we face in
responding to the pandemic, the logic and benefits of cooperation and
global pooling will be compelling.

The most important and needed element today is leadership, to convince
those funding R&D or buying innovative products that in this emergency, the
broadest sharing of technology could save the most lives. Moreover, and
this needs to be addressed in funding agreements, now.

*Organizations (alphabetical order)*

Alianza LAC-GLOBAL por el Acceso a Medicamentos
American Medical Student Association
Associação Brasileira Interdisciplinar de AIDS (ABIA)
Comité de Veeduría y Cooperación en Salud de Colombia (CVCS) / Health
Oversight and Cooperation Committee (CVCS)
Corporación Innovarte
Creative Commons Ecuador
Fundación Vía Libre
Global Justice Now
Grupo de Trabalho sobre Propriedade Intelectual (GTPI)
Health Action International
Health GAP (Global Access Project)
Incentives for Global Health
Just Treatment
Knowledge Ecology International
Korean Pharmacists for Democratic Society(KPDS)
Korean Federation Medical Activist Groups for Health Rights (Association of
Korea Doctors for health rights, Association of Physicians for Humanism,
Korean Dentist’s Association for Healthy Society, Korean Pharmacists for
Democratic Society, Solidarity for worker’s health)
Lawyers Collective
Misión Salud
Observatorio Iberoamericano de Propiedad Intelectual (OBIPI)
People’s Health Institute (Korea)
Public Citizen
Public Eye
Red Latinoamericana por el Acceso a Medicamentos (RedLAM)
Salud por Derecho
Salud y Fármacos EEUU
SELACC (the secretariat of Cáritas Latin America and the Caribbean)
Treatment Action Group
UAEM Europe
Union for Affordable Cancer Treatment (UACT)
Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)

*Global Health Law Committee, International Law Association*

   - Frederick Abbott, Co-Chair, Edward Ball Eminent Scholar Professor,
   Florida State University College of Law, USA
   - Brigit Toebes, Co-Chair, Professor and Chair, Health Law in a Global
   Context, Faculty of Law,University of Groningen, The Netherlands
   - Ellen ‘ t Hoen, Co-Rapporteur, Director Medicines Law & Policy and
   University Medical Centre Groningen.
   - Including the following Members:
      - Ryan Abbott, Professor of Law and Health Sciences, University of
      Surrey, United Kingdom and Adjunct Asst. Prof. of Medicine, David Geffen
      School of Medicine at UCLA, USA
      - Pia Acconci, Full professor of international law, Faculty of
      Communication Science, University of Teramo, Italy
      - Wang Chenguang, Professor of Law, Tsinghua University, China.
      - Andre den Exter, Universitair hoofddocent Gezondheidsrecht
      (University professor Health Law), Jean Monnet Chair EU Health
Law, Erasmus
      School of Law, The Netherlands
      - Hélène De Pooter PhD, LLM, Senior Lecturer in Law, Bourgogne
      Franche-Comté University (France)
      - Gian Luca Burci, Adjunct Professor of International Law, Graduate
      Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland
      - Dr. Mihalis Kritikos, Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA), EPRS |
      European Parliamentary Research Service
      - Stefania Negri, Associate Professor of International Law,
      Department of Legal Sciences – University of Salerno, Italy
      - Laurent Sermet, Professeur d’Université, Institut d’études
      politiques, Aix-en-Provence, France
      - Pedro Villarreal, PhD (UNAM, Mexico), Senior Research Fellow, Max
      Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law,
      Heidelberg, Germany
      - Tania Voon, Professor, Melbourne Law School, University of
      Melbourne, Australia
      - Morten Walløe Tvedt Associate Professor, Molde University College,
      Norway, Norwegian branch.

*Individuals (alphabetical order)*

Barbara Handelin, PhD, CoFounder, Audacity Therapeutics
Carol A. Nacy, Ph.D., CEO, Sequella, Inc.
Charles Clift
Claudia Vaca, Profesora asociada, Directora Centro de Pensamiento:
“Medicamentos, Información y Poder”, Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Diane Singhroy, PhD, Virologist
Dr. Andrew Hill, Honorary Visiting Senior Research Fellow, University of
Dr. Carina Vance, former Minister for Public Health (Ecuador), former
Director of the South American Institute of Governance in Health (ISAGS) of
the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
Dr. Guillaume Long, former Minister of Foreign Affairs (Ecuador)
Dr. Hernán Núñez Rocha, former Director of the Ecuadorian patent office
Dr. Jennifer Sellin, Assistant Professor Dept. of International & European
Law, Faculty of Law, Maastricht University, Maastricht Centre for Human
Dr. René Ramírez Gallegos, former Minister of Higher Education, Science,
Technology and Innovation in Ecuador
Dr Ruth Lopert MD MMedSc FAFPHM, Director, LWC Health
Ellen ‘t Hoen LLM PhD, Director, Medicines Law & Policy
Fifa Rahman, PhD Candidate, Intellectual Property and International Trade,
University of Leeds
Gregg Alton, Former Chief Patient Officer Gilead Sciences, Inc.
Hannes Braberg, PhD, Staff Scientist at University of California, San
Jennifer Cohn, MD MPH, Assistant Professor, Division of Infectious
Diseases, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Jennifer Milena Bueno, SLP MsC, Coordinadora CVCS, Investigadora en
comunicación-educación en salud
Jordan Jarvis, MSc, DrPH Candidate, London School of Hygiene & Tropical
Medicine, UK; Visiting Researcher, MAP-Centre for Urban Health Solutions,
St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Canada
Jorge Bermudez, MD, DSc; Public Health Researcher at Fiocruz, former
Executive-Director of UNITAID, former Member of the UN Secretary-General
High-Level Panel on access to Medicines
Katrina Perehudoff MSc LLM PhD, Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Dalla Lana
School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada, Post Doctoral
Assistant (‘doctor assistent’), Department of Public Health & Primary Care,
Ghent University, Belgium
Lilianne Ploumen, Member of Parliament, PvdA Spokesperson for Foreign
Affairs, Curative care and She Decides
Luc Denys, Belgium, jurist, retired J & J
Luis Villarroel Director, Corporacion Innovarte, Ex Miembro Tribunal
Propiedad Industrial de Chile
Luz Marina Umbasia Bernal, GHP Corp.
Manuel Becerra Ramírez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Marcel Canoy, economist, Erasmus School of Accounting and Assurance
Oscar Lizarazo-Cortés, Universidad Nacional de Colombia-Sede Bogotá
Paul Fehlner, President & CEO, reVision Therapeutics, Inc.
Peter B. Bach, MD, MAPP, Director, Center for Health Policy and Outcomes,
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Prof. Brook K. Baker, Northeastern U. School of Law, Program on Human
Rights and the Global Economy, and Senior Policy Analyst, Health GAP
Prof. Dr. H.D. Banta, former director of the Health Program US
Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and former Deputy Director of
the Pan American Health Organization
Prof Dr Hans V. Hogerzeil, em.Professor of Global Health, University
Medical Centre Groningen.
Professor Paulo D. Picon MD, PhD, Full Professor of Internal Medicine,
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Rafael Pérez Miranda, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana
Sol Terlizzi, Academic Coordinator, Master in Intellectual Property, FLACSO
Suerie Moon, MPA, PhD, Co-Director, Global Health Centre, Graduate
Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva
Tony Quinones, Bright Path Laboratories, Inc.
Yannis Natsis, Management Board member, European Medicines Agency

The Letter from Carlos Alvarado Quesada, Presidente de la República, Costa
Rica, and Daniel Salas Peraza, Ministro de Salud, Costa Rica, is available
A press release from the President is available here
A Spanish translation of our letter is available here
Additional commentary on the Costa Rica proposal to the WHO from the
following persons who signed the letter on behalf of organizations or in
their personal capacity.

*Gregg Alton, former Chief Patient Officer Gilead Sciences, Inc.*
“There has never been a more appropriate time to pool together our
knowledge and resources, including IP, know-how and research, against a
disease as there is now. This can be done in a way that respects and
rewards everyone’s contributions and investments and that improves our
ability to advance science toward combating this pandemic.”

*Paul Fehlner, President & CEO, reVision Therapeutics, Inc.*
“We need to act on Costa Rica’s proposal and immediately deploy the world’s
intelligence and energy against COVID-19 if we are to avoid the worst

*Brook K. Baker, Senior Policy Analyst, Health GAP (Global Access Project)*
“This is a very important first step in the effort to hardwire open science
to accelerate the research, development, and registration of new COVID-19
medical technologies. The technology pool will also help overcome
intellectual property exclusivities to ensure rapid scale-up of equitable,
worldwide access to new vaccines, medicines, diagnostics, and medical
devices needed to tackle the pandemic. These open science and global access
principles need to be inserted into funding agreements as soon as possible
and all parties with IP rights that might interfere with rapid scale-up of
all available manufacturing capacity must pool their rights urgently.”

*Thiru Balasubramaniam, Geneva Representative, Knowledge Ecology
“As we crash into this dystopian nightmare unleashed by Covid-19, the
coronavirus pandemic forces the international community to pause, and then
press reset. The Government of Costa Rica has stepped into the breach with
its timely proposal for the World Health Organization, under the helm of
Dr. Tedros, to establish a Covid-19 Technology Pool. The Covid-19 response
is the ultimate crucible of our generation. We must not fail.”

*Heidi Chow, Senior Policy Manager, Global Justice Now*
“We call on the UK government to support the Costa Rica proposal to ensure
universal access to any Covid-19 vaccine and treatment as well as open
access to the research and data. This is not the time for locking-up
research and technology just to protect corporate profit. The world is
watching and is demanding global solidarity. All governments need to step
up and demonstrate the leadership needed to put public health over
corporate profiteering.”

*Jennifer Cohn, MD MPH, Assistant Professor, Division of Infectious
Diseases, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine*
“Costa Rica’s proposal to create a Covid-19 technology pool is critical
during a fast moving pandemic like COVID-19. We need all hands on deck and
we need to break down any barriers to information sharing and innovation so
we can rapidly develop, test and provide access to beneficial medical
products to populations as widely and quickly as possible. ”

*Patrick Durisch, Health Policy Expert, Public Eye*
“Lessons should be learnt from past flu pandemics, we need a global
solution that goes beyond national preferences to respond effectively to
the current coronavirus crisis. With the Geneva-based WHO and Medicines
Patent Pool as well as many other leading actors in these fields,
Switzerland has the opportunity to host a global solidarity mechanism
enabling quick and equitable access for COVID-19 medical technologies

*Tabitha Ha, Advocacy Manager, STOPAIDS*
“STOPAIDS urge the UK and other governments to support the proposal
submitted by Costa Rica. An effective global response to COVID-19 requires
governments to work more closely together across borders, not further
apart. It requires leaders to take firm actions that prioritise public
health over corporate profiteering. This proposal will help speed up
research and ensure that everyone will be able to access the diagnostics,
vaccines and medicines that are so desperately needed.

*Dr. Andrew Hill, Honorary Visiting Senior Research Fellow, University of
“Most of the drugs being tested against coronavirus could be mass produced
very cheaply. We need to make sure anyone can access these new drugs. Price
should not be a barrier to access in any country”.

*James Love, Director, Knowledge Ecology International*
“If we ignore the current and evolving intellectual property rights on
COVID-19 related tests, drugs and vaccines, including patents and rights in
data, reagents, cell lines and know-how, it can be very difficult to
address these issues later. This is a moment for action, waiting makes it
more difficult. It is important to start with short and simple clauses in
R&D funding agreements, that provide for the option to assign rights to the
pool. The exercise of those options, and the implementation of the pool,
will take time. The agreement to provide for the option to make assignments
can and should be done now, before funding agreements are signed. If people
are serious about fighting this health and economy destroying pandemic,
this is essential. Act with foresight now to avoid regret with hindsight

*Diarmaid McDonald, Lead organiser Just Treatment*
“This coronavirus is ending lives, destroying families, overwhelming health
systems and devastating economies. There’s never a good time to put
self-interest ahead of the global public good, but this must surely rank as
amongst the worst. Governments, research institutions and pharmaceutical
corporations must urgently pool their resources and knowledge for the good
of humanity. Simply put, failing to collaborate will kill.”

*Peter Maybarduk, Access to Medicines Director, Public Citizen*
“Everyone into the pool, now. Corporations and governments urgently must
commit their resources, their science and tech, to accelerate the
production of new and better medical tools.”

*Natalie Rhodes, European Coordinating Committee, UAEM*
“There has never been such a global health issue that has felt so local and
individual. During this time we must demonstrate global solidarity, now is
not the time for nationalistic, protectionist and capitalist measures. In
that sense, pooling all our resources and knowledge as proposed by Costa
Rica is exactly what we need during this time. Public research institutions
in particular should see this as an opportunity to rethink IP exclusivity
to ensure that advances in scientific innovation should benefit all of us
indiscriminately. We need good governance, transparency, availability,
affordability, accessibility and solidarity.”

*Yannis Natsis, Management Board member, European Medicines Agency (EMA)*
“Now is the time for collaboration and openness, not competition and
secrecy. The Costa Rican proposal offers companies the chance to revalidate
their social contract with patients. Besides, companies love to talk about
partnerships. This is their chance to turn words into actions”.

*Luis Villarroel Villalón, Director, Corporación Innovarte, Ex Miembro
Tribunal Propiedad Industrial de Chile*
“Costa Rica’s proposal is a smart and badly needed initiative to promote
and organize international collaborative work towards fighting a death
sentence for hundred of thousands of persons around the world and economic
ruin for millions. Sharing knowledge and data available, as well mapping
needs and compromising resources for research, as well as opening results
is common sense and a duty for governments and industry alike, and no doubt
WHO is the best agency to lead it.”

*Sun Kim, M.S., Ph.D., Director, Health Policy Research Center, People’s
Health Institute (PHI) South Korea. Regional coordinator, People’s Health
Movement (PHM) South East Asia & Asia Pacific (SEAP)*
“The current lack of access to diagnostic tests in many countries is
largely due to the lack of sharing of the rights in the data, knowledge,
and technologies, especially with regard to the reagents.”

*Ellen ‘t Hoen LLM PhD, Director, Medicines Law & Policy*
“I wholeheartedly support the proposal by Costa Rica to create a global
pool for rights in the data, knowledge and technologies useful in the
prevention, detection and treatment of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a
time for solidarity and sharing. The sad reality is that conflicts are
breaking out over access to essential know-how. Significant public funding
is poured into the developments of tools for prevention and treatment. I
cannot imagine a more urgent situation for the world to come together and
make the Covid-19 technology pool a reality."

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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