G8 Countries Take Hard Line On Counterfeit Medicines

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The Group of Eight (G8) industrialised countries recently met to discuss major challenges to the global economy, climate change, food security and nutrition, and political and security issues. And the commitments they made on intellectual property rights reflect their current thinking on the issue.

The 18-19 May G8 summit took place at Camp David, Maryland (US). The G8 consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The G8 laid out its stance on intellectual property rights (IPR) in statement 9 of the final declaration, and reaffirmed its commitment to upholding “high standards for IPR protection and enforcement.” They stressed its positive impact on jobs and emphasised the importance of the “free flow of information.”

The complete G8 Declaration can be found here.

Notably, the G8’s 2012 stance outlined the group’s focus on “protecting public health and consumer safety” through information sharing to more effectively combat illegal internet pharmacy sites and counterfeit medicines. The distinction between counterfeit – which refers to a trademark violation – and substandard quality medicines, was debated at last week’s World Health Assembly (IPW, WHO, 26 May 2012).

This commitment to protection of public health through IP best practices was absent from the 2011 statement. While the 2011 document highlighted violations of digital IPR violations, the same rhetoric did not carry over into the 2012 document.

The G8, in an accountability report on its implementation of past commitments, also referred to public health by praising the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) for bringing a “unified focus to the urgent task of closing critical gaps in provisions of vaccines.” GAVI is a mixed public-private health partnership committed to increasing access to immunisations and vaccines in low-income countries. The GAVI release and link to G8 accountability report is here.

The full text of statement 9 in the declaration is as follows:

“9- Given the importance of intellectual property rights (IPR) to stimulating job and economic growth, we affirm the significance of high standards for IPR protection and enforcement, including through international legal instruments and mutual assistance agreements, as well as through government procurement processes, private-sector voluntary codes of best practices, and enhanced customs cooperation, while promoting the free flow of information. To protect public health and consumer safety, we also commit to exchange information on rogue internet pharmacy sites in accordance with national law and share best practices on combating counterfeit medical products.”

Matthew Gibson may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

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