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Health and Development Novartis Symposium 4/14/01 Access to Medicine – The Role of Patent Rules Sophia Tickell- Oxfam GB. Trade Talks at Doha. Test of legitimacy of WTO & multilateral trading system. Patents/Medicines by far the biggest single issue. Outcome: Declaration.

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Trade Talks at Doha

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Health and DevelopmentNovartis Symposium4/14/01Access to Medicine – The Role of Patent RulesSophia Tickell- Oxfam GB

Trade Talks at Doha

  • Test of legitimacy of WTO & multilateral trading system.

  • Patents/Medicines by far the biggest single issue

Outcome: Declaration

“We Agree That the TRIPS Agreement Does Not and Should Not Prevent Members From Taking Measures to Protect Public Health”

What is at issue?

  • Privileged access of pharmaceutical industry led to imbalance between public & private interests in global trade rules, including:

  • TRIPS agreement – All WTO member states to offer a minimum of 20 year patent protection on all products and processes

Why does it matter?1. The Health context

  • 37,000 people each day dying of treatable/preventable diseases

  • 1 million die each year from malaria

  • 2 million die each year from T.B.

  • 3 million die each year from HIV/AIDS

TRIPS raises prices

Poor people buy medicines & struggle to do so in LDCs and DCs

Luweero, Uganda – ¾ poor families sell food crops to buy medicines

Colombia – 1 in 5 on/below poverty line – medicines = greatest household health expenditure.

Poor governments do too

61 DCs average medicine spend = S$10

2. Why does it matter? – Poor people can barely afford medicines

3. Why does it matter?

  • Extending scope and duration of patent protection = extending scope and duration of high prices:

    • Combivir (GSK) US$7,000 in US, Cipla version US$275

    • Thailand recent visit - indinavir = 37 baht from company (Roche), from India = 13 baht

2001 – Increased familiarity with industry’s pro-TRIPS arguments:

  • problem of access = lack of infrastructure, transport, health personnel, training education

  • takes US$500m to bring a new drug to market

  • patents as incentive for research (including for poverty diseases) and reward for innovation

2001 – Increased familiarity with industry’s pro-TRIPS argumentscont.:

  • public private partnerships as adequate response to developing country needs

  • need for uniform system to prevent undercutting of prices in North

2001 – Growing recognition of social function of generics:

  • Early entry of generics = earlier price falls for the poor (rule of fives)

  • Low prices extremely significant poor individuals – little state health coverage/few insurance schemes

Low prices important for poor governments – save foreign exchange - WB report that TRIPS will = net outflow of US$20bn in technology payments & admin costs

Local generics industry allows governments to negotiate over prices:

Nelfinavir & Indinavir – Brazil

Cipro – US$1.77 per tab to US$0.95 – US

2001 – Growing recognition of social function of generics

Unlike to recur:

South Africa - Nelson Mandela in the dock for attempting to get cheap drugs for 4.2m AIDS sufferers

Dominican Republic threat to textiles

Brazil - Successful HIV/AIDS programme under threat 50% mortality cut

  • 2001 – Declaration = concerted developing country determination to ensure trade rules more balanced

2002 – TRIPS not yet resolved:

  • Issue of compulsory licensing for export needs early & unconditional resolution

  • Review needed to access

    impact of length and scope of pharmaceutical patenting and amend TRIPS to ensure access

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