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[e-drug] MSF Response to CIPR Report
E-drug: MSF Response to CIPR Report
Patent laws must put needs of people in developing countries first, says
MSF calls on governments to act upon recommendations of the Commission for
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 [www.iprcommission.org].
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
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 report's 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
Ellen 't Hoen, LL.M.
MSF- Access to Essential Medicines Campaign
8, rue Saint-Sabin, 75544 Paris Cedex 11
tel: + 33 (0) 1 40212836
fax: + 33 (0) 1 48066868
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