WHO Group To Consult On Pandemic Flu Framework In Lead-Up To AssemblyPublished on 7 February 2012 @ 4:13 am
By William New, Intellectual Property Watch
A key World Health Organization advisory group has invited stakeholders to consultations this month on the contribution of the private sector and others to global pandemic flu preparedness.
The consultations will take place in Geneva on 23 February, in the context of the 22-24 February advisory group meeting.
The advisory group was set up to monitor, assess, and report on the implementation of the framework agreed at the World Health Assembly in May 2011 to help govern sharing of virus strains, and access to and benefit-sharing of outcomes. The 18 members of the group were named last autumn (IPW, WHO, 22 November 2011).
The Pandemic influenza preparedness Framework for the sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines and other benefits is available here.
The invitation was issued by Advisory Group Chair Professor Didier Houssin and Vice Chair Professor Tjandra Aditama. Those invited include influenza vaccine, diagnostic and pharmaceutical manufacturers, associations, civil society organisations and other stakeholders such as academia and research institutions.
The use of the partnership contribution is covered in Section 6.14.6, which states:
“Influenza vaccine, diagnostic and pharmaceutical manufacturers, using
the WHO GISRS, will make an annual partnership contribution to WHO
for improving global pandemic influenza preparedness and response. It
is decided that the sum of the annual contributions shall be equivalent
to 50% of the running costs of the WHO GISRS.
Such contributions will commence in 2012. The distribution between companies
is to be based on transparency and equity, based on their nature and capacities.
The Director-General in consultation with the “Advisory Group” will further define
the specific amounts to be contributed by each company as well as the
mechanism for implementation (see section 6.14.5 below). In so doing, the Director-General
and the “Advisory Group” will collaborate with industry.
The Director-General will report annually on the outcome to the Executive Board.”
The GISRS is the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System.
The director-general gave a progress report [pdf] on the advisory group to the recent meeting of the WHO Executive Board. It said the advisory body plans to hold four meetings during 2012, looking at issues such as the GISRS and WHO’s interaction with industry. For the use of the partnership contribution, manufacturers will be asked to update the group on proposals to define specific amounts to be contributed.
The group also is working on a new standard material transfer agreement (SMTA2). SMTAs are contractual legal instruments between the countries sharing the virus, and the recipients, whether entities inside the WHO surveillance network, or outside of the network, such as companies. For the latter, benefit-sharing options are mandatory, to be chosen by the recipients from a list provided in the SMTA.
At the May 2011 WHA, some countries called for companies to provide non-exclusive licences at affordable royalties, or royalty-free to developing countries. Countries also said technology transfer is essential to building up vaccines capacities in developing countries (IPW, WHO, 24 May 2011).
Civil society groups said in May that the monetary contribution decided on in the framework was not in proportion with profits that pharmaceutical companies derive from getting access to virus samples, and said the framework should have mandatorily limited intellectual property rights, as benefits.
The 23 February consultation meeting times are:
10.00 – 12.00 Advisory Group consultation with civil society organizations and other stakeholders.
15.00 – 17.00 Advisory Group consultation with influenza vaccine, diagnostic and pharmaceutical manufacturers.
William New may be reached at email@example.com.