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Ten Questions About Internet Governance

On April 23 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the “Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance,” also known as “NETmundial” in an allusion to the global football event that will occur later in that country, will be convened. Juan Alfonso Fernández González of the Cuban Communications Ministry and a veteran of the UN internet governance meetings, raises 10 questions that need to be answered at NETmundial.


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    Free Drugs Are “Crucial Part” Of Neglected Tropical Disease Fight

    Published on 16 January 2013 @ 7:13 pm

    By for Intellectual Property Watch

    The World Health Organization reports that unprecedented progress has been made in addressing 17 parasitic diseases affecting the world’s poorest populations. The public health authority attributes the gains, in large part, to the contributions of global partners, including drug contributions made by research-based pharmaceutical giants.

    The WHO released its second report on neglected tropical diseases, “Sustaining the drive to overcome the global impact of neglected tropical diseases,” on 15 January in Geneva. It says that ambitious goals to control or eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) entirely or in certain geographic areas by 2020 are within reach.

    Public health authorities give credit to a new strategy, which involves: endemic country ownership of national programmes; strong support from donors including the governments of the United States and United Kingdom, and the Gates Foundation; and medicines donated by some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies.

    Neglected diseases are those for which there is little commercial market because they occur primarily among poor populations. NTDs refer to those involving parasites in particular.

    Some organisations that are not official partners of this NTD strategy, including Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders), caution that while drug donations are effective solutions for some diseases, it’s not enough to provide sustainable access to medicine for all people in need of treatment. The non-governmental organisation (NGO) also highlights an urgent need for improved, easier-to-administer treatments and diagnostic tools.

    From left to right: Hiroki Nakatani, J.P. Tiémoko Moriko, Lorenzo Savioli, Kris Easter, and Mario Ottiglio, at the WHO NTD report press conference. (Photo Credit: Rachel Marusak Hermann)

    Cost-Prohibitive Medicines

    “Market mechanisms do not solve the problem of access to treatment, even if it is out of patent, and these drugs are mostly, if not all, out of patent today. Access has not been assured of the drugs, in the quantity and quality that we have received,” Lorenzo Savioli, director of the Department of Control of NTDs at the WHO, told Intellectual Property Watch.

    Savioli cited the example of the prohibitive cost of praziquantel, a medicine produced by Merck KGaA (Germany) and used to treat schistosomiasis, for people most at risk of contracting the disease. The prevalence of the disease is highest in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the report.

    “Everyone thought, ‘Well, when it goes out of patent, the price will drop and access will increase – [the] market mechanism will solve the problems of access to treatment,’” he said. “This has not happened. And for this specific group of diseases, the probability is that it will never happen, because the people affected are the very, very poor.”

    Therefore, he said that the donation made by Merck KGaA of at least 200 million tablets of praziquantel per year for distribution primarily to African children is a “crucial part” of reaching the WHO’s schistosomiasis targets.

    According to the WHO NTD report, at least 237 million people need treatment for s schistosomiasis. It is expected that the praziquantel donations will help reach 100 million people who need treatment per year.

    WHO NTD schistosomiasis targets include eliminating the disease in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, Caribbean, Indonesia, and the Mekong River basin by 2015 and in the Americas Region, the Western Pacific Region, and in selected African countries by 2020.

    In general, the distribution of donations is not limited by geography. But as the treatment outreach “is not intended to displace markets,” explained Denis Daumerie, project manager NTDS at WHO, the praziquantel donations are destined to Africa where it is not produced, and not China and Brazil, where there are government-backed manufacturing programmes.

    Other major targets include the global eradication of guinea worm disease by 2015 and yaws by 2020. Others are set for the control, elimination, or eradication of 15 additional NTDs either globally or for selected geographic areas.

    A New Era of Public-Private Collaboration

    The release of the WHO NTD progress report comes one year after the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases [pdf], which was endorsed by Abbot, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Becton, Dickinson, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), Eisai, Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck KGaA, MSD, Mundo Sano, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi, UKaid, USAID, and World Bank.

    Today, the London Declaration signatories have also released a report, which includes details on donor contributions and tracks partner outputs in 2012.

    Since the declaration, the research-based pharmaceutical industry announced the donation of 14 billion treatments throughout the decade to control or eliminate nine NTDs.

    “If all of these partners take to completion their commitment, in a little more than five years, we could celebrate a major win in public health. Our industry is on track with all the commitments made last year,” said Mario Ottiglio, associate director of Public Affairs and Global Health Policy at the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) during the press conference launching the report at the WHO on 15 January.

    The industry group, which launched its own report on NTDs today, joined WHO on the press conference podium. There were no NGOs on the podium.

    Kris Easter, USAID representative from the US mission in Geneva, praised the collaborative approach that the WHO has adopted in addressing NTDs, “The progress that has been made in the past year under WHO’s leadership has been historic. In this era of heightened public and private cooperation, we applaud these achievements,” she said.

    Similarly, J.P. Tiémoko Moriko, counsellor from the Côte d’Ivoire mission in Geneva, congratulated the WHO for progress made and underlined the fact that NTDs are not confined to African countries, but affect populations across the globe during his intervention [pdf, in French].

    Innovation Needs

    Reacting to the NTD report, Julien Potet, policy adviser on NTDs at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) Access Campaign, took note of the “huge emphasis on drug donations,” in an interview with Intellectual Property Watch.

    “It may a good solution for some diseases, but for some others, drug donations have not been enough to facilitate access to treatment for all those in need. And alternative access strategies need to be explored and they are not explored efficiently at the moment,” Potet said.

    He added, “We think there is a need to connect this NTD agenda to the ongoing political process at the WHO in favour of new models for R&D for neglected diseases.”

    Last November, WHO member states agreed to endorse a work plan on coordinating, financing, and monitoring of R&D to address diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries. A divisive policy issue, the final output left some member states and NGOs hoping for a more ambitious strategy, namely a move toward a global convention on R&D, disappointed (IPW, WHO, 29 November 2013).

    Bernard Pécoul, executive director of DNDi, a non-profit R&D organisation, told Intellectual Property Watch that while the WHO report helps to “maintain visibility on diseases that that have been highly abandoned for many years,” the need for improved innovation in these disease areas remains high.

    “We know that with existing drugs it will hard to eliminate sleeping sickness because of the practical difficulties in administering the medication, especially in remote areas,” Pécoul said, also calling for improved diagnostic tools.

    IFPMA Reports 40 Percent Increase in R&D for NTDs

    Separately, the IFPMA launched a separate report [pdf] today showing a 40 percent increase over 2011 in pharmaceutical R&D programmes for NTDs. Again, public-private collaboration plays a key role with 85 percent of the projects listed in the status report born of a product development partnership (PDP).

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

     

    Comments

    1. Packed WHO Executive Board Agenda Highlights Need To Streamline Priorities | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] Regarding neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), the Board is invited to consider a draft resolution on stepping up efforts to prevent, control, eliminate, and eradicate these diseases that affect the very poor. The WHO has given particular attention to the role of pharmaceutical company donations in its NTD strategy. Some critics caution that while donations are critical, they do not lead to sustainably lower medicine prices needed to treat these diseases over the long term. [...]

    2. World Health Assembly Next Week: R&D, NCDs, Pandemics Top Agenda | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      [...] A central element of the initiative has involved major contributions by pharmaceutical companies of medicines to treat these diseases, which primarily affect some of the world’s poorest communities. Some civil society organisations, such as MSF, warn that while donations are an important part of the solution, charity is not sustainable and a long-term solution is urgently needed (IPW, WHO, 16 January 2013). [...]


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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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