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[e-drug] new CIPR report on patents and developing countries

  • Subject: [e-drug] new CIPR report on patents and developing countries
  • From: [email protected]
  • Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 03:20:33 -0400 (EDT)

E-DRUG: new CIPR report on patents and developing countries
[A new report by the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights (CIPR)
"Integrating Intellectual Property Rights and Development Policy" will be
published at 10am (UK time) on Thursday 12th September 2002.

The report supports the criticism that patents are increasing prices for
developing countries and that patents are not necessarily beneficial for
the developing world.
That is nothing new, but it is new from a UK government sponsored

Below a series of messages: how to get the full report, press release,
responses by Oxfam, MSF and ABPI. Warning: long email! Crossposted with
thanks from IP-HEALTH and DRUGINFO. Copied as fair use. WB]


The report of the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights (CIPR)
"Integrating Intellectual Property Rights and Development Policy" will be
published at 10am (UK time) on Thursday 12th September 2002.

It will be available to download from the CIPR website
www.iprcommission.org from that time.

If you would like a hard copy, please contact [email protected].

[Reuters summary]


Sept. 12

- LONDON (Reuters) - Poor countries have little to gain and plenty to lose
from adopting Western standards of patent protection, a group of experts
appointed by the British government said on Thursday.

The Commission on Intellectual Property Rights concluded that a global
to expand patent protection would mean higher-priced medicines and seeds
most developing countries, with no significant benefit for their local

Activists have long campaigned against the blanket adoption of patents in
the developing world, arguing it leads to inflated prices for drugs to
AIDS and other deadly conditions in Africa. Western companies say patents
are vital for innovation.

Outlining 50 recommendations for aligning patent law with poverty
Commission Chairman Professor John Barton of Stanford University,
California, said intellectual property rules needed to be tailored to the
needs of poor nations.

"Developed countries often proceed on the assumption that what is good for
them is likely to be good for developing countries," he said.

"But, in the case of developing countries, more and stronger protection is
not necessarily better. Developing countries should not be encouraged or
coerced into adopting stronger IP (intellectual property) rights without
regard to the impact this has on their development and poor people."

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has promoted rules to ensure proper
respect for intellectual property rights around the world, with the goal of
stamping out pirate copies of pharmaceuticals, software and other
technology-derived products.

But the 180-page report from the commission finds this system is less
advantageous for developing than for developed countries, since poor
are net importers of health, agriculture, education and information

The problem is acute in the case of access to medicines where the full
adoption of the WTO's patents agreement, known as TRIPS, after 2005 may
restrict access to cheap generic products.

Barton said poor countries should have the flexibility to apply TRIPS at
their own pace, rather than on an arbitrary date.

The report is the work of six commissioners, drawn from academia, the law
and industry.

They included Gill Samuels, director of science policy at drug firm Pfizer
Inc in Britain, who said the role of patents should be recognized but not
overstated, since even their complete absence would not solve a lack of
health facilities in many countries.

Copyright 2002 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may
not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

[Oxfam Response to UKCommissionReport on IP]
From: [email protected]

Oxfam's Initial Response to the Report of the UK government Independent
Commission on Intellectual Property Rights (CIPR).

-    Oxfam welcomes the CIPR report which provides a powerful
evidence-based critique of the heath and development problems caused by the
one-size-fits-all approach of WTO patent rules (TRIPS). The report's
findings reflect many of the concerns expressed by developing countries,
academics, NGOs and others about the application of rich country
intellectual property (IP) standards to poor countries and medicines.  It
also recognizes the excessive corporate influence there has been over
global IP rules.

-    The report also picks up many of the recommendations put forward by
developing countries and NGOs on health and development. Encouragingly, it
reaffirms that private IP rights should not take precedence over human
rights, makes useful recommendations about how developing countries can
make maximum use of the existing flexibilities within TRIPS, proposes
extending implementation deadlines for least developed countries, and calls
for an end to rich country pressure to get poor countries to implement
standards or timetables which go beyond their TRIPS commitments
(TRIPS-plus).  If implemented these proposals could bring important
benefits to poor countries.

-    We hope that the UK government will consult with developing country
governments and civil society about the best way to take forward these
important findings.  A vital first step will be for WTO members to agree to
lift TRIPS restrictions on exports of generic medicines to all developing
countries. This was a commitment made at the WTO Doha Ministerial in
November 2001 that some rich countries are now seeking to water down.

-    Although the main thrust of the report is that TRIPS is essentially
bad for development, the recommendations fall short of calling for its
reform. This reflects, in part, the authors' pessimism about current power
imbalances at the WTO. They fear that, in the horse-trading that
characterises WTO trade negotiations, poor countries will have to pay too
high a price for TRIPS' reform. But this approach leaves a bad Agreement
intact and embroils developing countries in a complicated damage limitation
exercise for which many are ill-equipped. In short, while it rescues much
of the crockery, it leaves the elephant in the kitchen. Oxfam would prefer
to see the elephant removed. One way of doing so would be by extending the
implementation deadlines for developing, as well as least developed,

-    The onus is on rich country governments to disprove this pessimistic
assessment of the new 'development' round of trade negotiations. To this
end we urge the UK Government to use the report's findings to call for a
substantive review and revision of TRIPS outside of the current trade
negotiations.  Such a step would demonstrate a genuine commitment by rich
country governments to transform the WTO from a rich man's club to one that
puts poverty reduction at the top of its agenda, as promised at Doha in

Quotes from the report

'We are not persuaded by the arguments that developing countries at very
different stages of development should be required to adopt a specific date
(Jan 2000 for developing countries and January 2006 for least developed
countries) when they should implement TRIPS regardless of their progress in
developing a viable technological base. On the contrary we believe there
are strong arguments for greater flexibility in setting an optimum time to
strengthen IP protection, taking into account the nation's level of
economic, social and technological development'.

'Because developing countries are large net importers of technology from
the developed world, the globalisation of IP protection will result in very
substantial net transfers from developing to developed countries.'

'There is much less evidence from developing countries indicating that IPR
systems are a key stimulus for innovation. Indeed, for most developing
countries with weak technological capacity, the evidence on trade, foreign
investment and growth suggests IP protection will have little impact. Nor
is it likely that the benefits of IP protection will outweigh the costs in
the foreseeable future. For most developing countries.'

'The evidence suggests that the IP system hardly plays any role in
stimulating research on diseases particularly prevalent in developing
countries, except for those diseases where there is also a substantial
market in the developed world .  Nor it is likely that the globalisation of
IP protection will lead to greater investment by the private sector for the
development of treatments for diseases that primarily affect developing
countries. The evidence also suggests that patent protection has an effect
on the prices charged for medicines?. In the absence of patents more people
would be able to afford the treatments they need.'

Please join the Oxfam trade campaign at http://www.maketradefair.com
Visit the web site at http://www.oxfam.org.uk

[MSF response]

Patent laws must put needs of people in developing countries first, says
international report.

MSF calls on governments to act upon recommendations of the Commission for
Intellectual Rights.

Access to medicines is a major problem in the developing world. Every day
people continue to suffer and die because of lack of access to safe,
effective and affordable medicines. Patents are an essential part of this,
both in the way they affect drug prices and the extent to which they
stimulate the research and development of new drugs. This issue has been
examined in detail by the Commission for Intellectual Property Rights
(CIPR), established by the UK-Government in May 2001 [

M�decins Sans Fronti�res welcomes the findings of the CIPR on the issues of
patents and health. The CIPR report strongly advocates the view that
patents are tools of public policy and must operate to serve the greater
public good. It calls for patent systems that support the public health
policies of developing countries, according to the needs and level of
development of each country.

The CIPR makes practical and action-orientated recommendations. The report
calls for all developing countries to considering narrowing to a absolute
minimum the type and scope of pharmaceutical patents, and for
least-developing countries to consider delaying the granting of
pharmaceutical patents for as long as possible.

MSF strongly endorses the reports' call for measures to ensure generic
competition to bring drug prices down in developing countries. Quick and
easy-to-use mechanisms should be designed and implemented for the granting
of compulsory licences to allow generic production. This report supports
what MSF and others have been advocating: that compulsory licences should
not be an exception but should become the rule to ensure that the patent
system does not hamper the development of a competitive pharmaceutical

An important issue that needs to be resolved is how to ensure that
production for export to a country that has issued a compulsory license,
but does not have manufacturing capacity, can take place in another country
when patents are have been granted. The CIPR calls for a solution that is
quick and easy to implement, gives long term security and is economically
viable. These principles endorse 'an Article 30 exception' that would
continue to allow countries like India or Brazil that manufacture medicines
to export them to those that need them.

This issue will be discussed at the WTO TRIPS Council meeting in Geneva
next week. The TRIPS Council cannot ignore the recommendations of this
report. As MSF has pointed out, and as the findings of the CIPR suggest,
the best solution is to adopt an Article 30 exception.

The pharmaceutical industry argues that future drug research and
development depends on intellectual property protection. The CIPR makes
clear the fact that the patent system is failing to stimulate innovation to
meet many medical needs. Analysis by MSF shows that drug research is
largely driven by profit prospects, not health needs. We are getting more
and more drugs of less and less use, while many killer diseases like TB,
malaria, and sleeping sickness are ignored because they only affect poor
people. 68% of new drugs represent little or no therapeutic advance; and
less than 1% of new drugs are developed for tropical diseases that
represent over 10% of the global disease burden. We strongly endorse the
reports' call for greater public sector responsibility to address a health
needs based research agenda and to ensure  R&D into neglected diseases.

The Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health adopted by the WTO last
November was the beginning of a process to change the way intellectual
property is dealt with in the world. This process must continue.
Governments, both nationally and through international institutions, need
to ensure that public interest and in particular health needs determine the
patent policies that are crafted.

Health and pharmaceutical policies must not be curtailed by the patent
system. This will require institutional changes. For example, the report
calls for a change in the attitude of organisations such as The World
Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) that have so far given advice to
developing countries based almost exclusively on the supposed gains to be
made from having a patent system, rather than the dangers.

This report is a further recognition of the need for greater action and
support to help developing countries put health first. No government can
ignore its recommendations.

For more information contact:

Ellen 't Hoen, MSF, Paris: 0033 1 40 21 28 36
Nathan Ford, MSF, London: 00 44 207 404 4466


[ABPI response (British Pharmaceutical Industry)]

Wednesday, September 12, 2002


Patents are essential if new medicines are to be developed to fight disease
in both the developed and developing world, the Association of the British
Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said today in its response to the report by
the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights.

The ABPI is pleased to note the report's recognition that IP protection is
important for the promotion of invention and, in particular, of the role of
patents in the research and development of new medicines.  It also welcomes
the Commission's comments on the value of the current TRIPS agreement with
its existing flexibility.

But it is concerned that the Commission is proposing compulsory licensing
of medicines and an extension of parallel trade as a component of the
resolution of the difficulty of access to medicines in the developing

"It is clearly a thoughtful report and one that we shall need to consider
in depth," said Dr Trevor Jones, Director General of the ABPI.  "It is
important that the report recognises that there are many factors other than
IPR that affect people's access to healthcare in poorer countries, and that
the really important constraints are lack of resources to improve services,
delivery mechanisms, and infrastructure to distribute and administer
medicines safely."

The report also gives recognition to the fact that differential pricing
mechanisms between the developed world and the developing world are of

"The pharmaceutical industry, over many years, has used differential
pricing throughout the developing world," said Dr Jones.  "The prices of
medicines in, for example, the USA, Britain, Germany and France are
significantly different from the same products sold to public health
systems in countries such as Malawi, Uganda, Bangladesh and India.

"We believe that for the Least Developed Countries - and for the whole of
sub-Saharan Africa - that access to medicines for malaria and TB, and
anti-retroviral medicines for the treatment of HIV/AIDS through
differential pricing, combined with adequate funding for infrastructure of
health delivery is a positive way forward."

The ABPI strongly endorses the report's acknowledgement that, when such
schemes are introduced, safeguards must be put in place to ensure that
these products are not re-imported to the developed world.

"One aspect that the report seems to have overlooked," said Dr Jones, "is
the potential of public/private partnerships between the industry and
national governments to find solutions to the delivery of healthcare to the
developing world within the context that international IPR makes feasible.

"The pharmaceutical industry is well aware of the tragedy caused by poor
healthcare provision in the developing world, and is involved in many
schemes to tackle the problem - for example, the involvement of the
industry in the not-for-profit Medicines for Malaria Venture to discover
and develop new medicines for those who need them at affordable prices
while respecting IPR rights.

"This essential work can only continue against a background of secure
patent protection - a system that brings benefits to the whole of


For further information, please contact:

Richard Ley                        (office)                        020 7747
1410                        (home)                        020 8866 4622
mobile                        07715 169727

Ben Hayes                        (office)                        020 7747
1406                        (home)                        020 8959 7830
mobile                        07715 169726

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