World Health Assembly: Pandemic Flu Framework Clears Committee 27/05/2013 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Member states gathered at the annual World Health Assembly took note of a report on its pandemic influenza preparedness (PIP) framework amid encouragement by developed countries that standard agreements for transferring materials be completed, and reminders from some developing countries of the need for fair access and benefit-sharing of the resulting treatments. The World Health Assembly is meeting from 20-28 May. A committee addressing the pandemic framework discussed it and took note of the report late last week. All issues go for final approval before the full Assembly tomorrow. The framework sets out a plan for countries to share their virus strains with an international network involving private companies that then work to develop vaccines to fight the viruses. As the R&D network is based in a small number of mostly northern countries, the framework is intended to ensure that all countries get equal access to any treatments that are developed. The discussion came in the context of two new viruses being actively reported on by WHO: avian influenza A(H7N9) in China and novel coronavirus in the Mediterranean region and France. A report emerged during the week that a private company in the Netherlands had patented a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, which would give it monopoly rights over its manufacture and distribution. In general, comments in the discussion on the pandemic framework in the Assembly committee A called for an intensification of efforts and for transparency in the process, as summarised by a WHO Assistant Director-General for Health, Security and Environment Keiji Fukuda. Indonesia raised concern about access and benefit sharing, especially in light of agreements with commercial entities. The WHO gave no indication that member states could be privy to the negotiations or terms being negotiated until after they are completed. Fukuda said they spent several months negotiating with GSK and that only after they were concluded did they make the terms known. GSK agreed to provide 7.5 percent of its vaccines production to WHO for its dispersion and 2.5 percent of vaccines at “affordable prices,” he said. It also agreed to donate 2 million doses of antiretrovirals to WHO and sell 8 million at affordable prices. The United States said there should be synergies between the PIP and other frameworks, such as the global action plan for moving technology out to developing countries as much as possible, he said. Companies that want to access the genetic materials provide funding to the PIP framework under partnership contributions. Of those funds, approximately 70 percent are to be used for pandemic influenza preparedness activities and 30 percent for response, Fukuda said. Of the funds for preparedness, 70 percent are for lab and surveillance. After Paraguay said it had problems with transporting specimens to a collection centre, Fukuda noted that WHO provides training on providing materials and then provides funding for their transport. Australia stressed the need for finalising the standard material transfer agreement 2 (SMTA2), to which Fukuda said they have already completed agreements with the University of Florida (US) and UK company GlaxoSmithKline. Five other negotiations are underway. The WHO also said it hopes to post a document providing guidance on pandemic preparedness in the next week or two. Fukuda noted general support for a proposal that 10 percent of funds under the PIP be provided to the secretariat for its purposes. Effective since May 2011, the PIP framework addresses a North-South inequity in influenza virus and vaccine sharing. Developing countries have long been concerned that if they share virus strains with the WHO network, they may not have access to the treatments that are developed in northern laboratories, or be forced to pay high prices for them if a developed country company gets a patent. At issue was a review of the PIP Framework 2013 biennial report (A66/17) and the report of the most recent PIP Advisory Group meeting (A66/17 Add.1), which was held in Geneva from 20-22 March. During that meeting, the WHO panel of influenza experts reviewed progress by the secretariat in finalising the SMTA2, the contract providing for virus sharing outside the traditional WHO system. They also looked at the Partnership Contribution, the formula used by WHO to charge companies benefiting from the virus sharing system. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related William New may be reached at email@example.com."World Health Assembly: Pandemic Flu Framework Clears Committee" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.