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    WHO Negotiations To Address Medical R&D Global Gaps Head Deep Into Night

    Published on 29 November 2012 @ 2:45 am

    By for Intellectual Property Watch

    Negotiations on the follow-up of the report of the expert group on research and development for neglected diseases tonight were continuing in a late-night session at the World Health Organization. At press time, member states were discussing options to address the research coordination, financing, and monitoring of medical R&D expenditures for the health needs of developing countries.

    The open-ended meeting of governments addressing the report of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination (CEWG) convening 26-28 November has been extended through a night session as member states continue to debate the modalities of how to address inequities in the current medical research landscape.

    As of press time, it appeared that proposals to address the coordination, financing, and monitoring of medical R&D expenditures were advancing, but not as part of an overarching framework. However, member states in favour of a binding convention continued to push for the inclusion of language, which would allow for the possibility of an R&D treaty going forward.

    The latest draft resolution [pdf] circulated at the start of the 26 November afternoon session (though still with a 9:00 time on it), did not include the possibility of a binding convention on medical research and development. Rather it endorses a “strategic work plan to improve monitoring, coordination, and ensure sustainable financing for health R&D, as an initial step towards the development of effective, safe, quality, suitable and affordable health products that existing market mechanisms and current public policies fail to deliver.”

    A copy of the draft meeting report [pdf] notes agreement on “a phased approach by endorsing a strategic work plan which encompasses monitoring, coordination, prioritization and financing.”

    Countries including Bolivia, Thailand and Colombia have expressed strong support for a medical R&D treaty. Laurent Gaberell, from the Bolivian delegation, said, “We are getting what we want, but more slowly than what we want.”

    “Ultimately this could really have a big potential, Gaberell explained in a video interview by Knowledge Ecology International (KEI). “If we get countries to sit together and pool resources to finance some R&D project that could ultimately really make a difference for developing countries that could show the world that there is not only one model for R&D, the IP model, the private commercial model, but also that governments sitting together and public funding can also deliver and make a difference.”

    Agreement seemed to have been reached on a monitoring proposal or a “Global Health Observatory,” which was also one of the recommendations included in the CEWG report.

    According to the meeting report draft, “Members States agreed in principle that a Global Health Observatory should be set up in WHO. The Secretariat was requested to develop, for consideration by the World Health Assembly, a proposal on how such an Observatory could be set up, including the scope of the Observatory, its relationship with mechanisms at regional and national levels, as well management, timeframe and financial implications of such an Observatory.”

    As member states continued to hammer out a resolution into the early morning of 29 November, many delegates described the negotiations this week as particularly challenging.

    Tough Negotiations

    Several member states have described this week’s negotiations as particularly challenging. Germán Velásquez, a special adviser for health and development at the South Centre, is negotiating with the Bolivian delegation, and called it very difficult.

    “I have been following this issue over the last 10, almost 15 years and this has been one of the most difficult meetings that we have had because of all the issues in intellectual property and access to medicines that we discussing, or trying to discuss today,” Velásquez said in a video interview.

    Additionally, he described a close collaboration between the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), India, China, Iran, and Egypt, saying that the countries worked together “in a very consistent way.”

    A delegate from a high-income country expressed frustration leaving the meeting before negotiations had been concluded. “We just spent a half an hour negotiating whether or not we should include reference to CEWG. At this rate, this meeting is going to run all night. As the chair said, it’s not good for your spiritual health,” he said.

    Others, though, were positive on the evolution of the discussions. “Considering how polarized the positions are, we have made a lot of progress. In May, ‘instrument’ was a bad word. It is still, but less so. At least the idea is still on the table,” said a delegate from an African country.

    This meeting was mandated by the 65th World Health Assembly last May, with the objective to examine the CEWG report, the feasibility of its recommendations, and to develop proposals or options related to research coordination, financing, and the monitoring of R&D expenditures.

    The general meeting documents are available here. Viroj Tangcharoensathien of Thailand is chairing the meeting and will hold an open briefing session on the outcomes on 29 November.

    Outside Views

    The mobilization around these negotiations has been significant. Due to the strong interest, member states opened the first morning session to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in official relationship with the WHO, other NGOs, intergovernmental organisations, The Wellcome Trust, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA).

    Over 60 NGOs submitted an open letter [pdf] supporting a global R&D convention. On behalf of Knowledge Ecology International and Alianza LAC-Global, Health Action International delivered a shortened version of the letter in an oral intervention. Several other NGOs also spoke out in favour of an R&D treaty including Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders), the South Centre, the Council on Health Research for Development, and Oxfam.

    The IFPMA also made a statement [pdf], welcoming the “[CEWG] conclusion that new models would be supplementary instruments to address challenges that cannot be fully tackled trough the current innovation paradigm.”

    While the Wellcome Trust was not present during the opening session, the London-based global charitable foundation circulated a statement critical of an R&D treaty: “We seriously question the need for a new binding global instrument for R&D and innovation for health. We have real concerns that the time and resource required to develop such an instrument will detract from activities that are urgently needed now to tackle the disease burden of LMICs [Low and Middle Income Countries].”

    Rachel Marusak Hermann may be reached at info@ip-watch.org.

     


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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