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IP-Watch Summer Interns

IP-Watch interns talk about their Geneva experience in summer 2013. 2:42.

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    UNDP Study Calls On South Africa To Use TRIPS Flexibilities For Medicines Access

    Published on 18 October 2013 @ 2:03 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    A newly published study from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) outlines significant problems in accessing medicines in South Africa – which is said to have the highest number of people living with HIV in the world – and urges its government to use available tools under international trade law such as exceptions to patents on needed medicines.

    The study, entitled, Using Law to Accelerate Treatment Access in South Africa, is available here [pdf].

    It comes at a time when South Africa is drafting a national IP policy, and is under pressure to incorporate measures ensuring medicines access and local innovation.

    According to a summary, the study “focuses on policy options available in three interrelated areas of patent, competition and medicines law affecting access to HIV treatment and other essential medicines.”

    “The recommended reforms are aimed at safeguarding public health by optimizing the use of public health related TRIPS flexibilities and therefore, the policy space available to countries at the WTO,” it said. “Potential drawbacks and challenges are highlighted, as are strategies for adoption that draw on the experiences of other low- and middle-income countries.”

    TRIPS refers to the 1994 World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

    The study says: “Accelerating access to affordable, quality-assured treatment is an essential component of South Africa’s National Strategic Plan (NSP) on HIV, STIs and TB 2012–2016. Of note, the NSP recognizes that the cost of anti-retroviral medicines remains the single greatest expenditure in the NSP’s annual budget. The NSP also calls attention to ‘ensuring an enabling and accessible legal framework that protects and promotes human rights in order to support implementation of the NSP’.”

    The study, authored by Chan Park, Achal Prabhala and Jonathan Berger, suggested that in order to boost innovation and local pharmaceutical industry growth, South Africa “could move towards an examination system, by initially implementing an opposition-based and/or partial examination system. This would reduce the number of patents currently being granted through its current registration system, which does not involve a substantive examination of patent applications.”

    It contains discussion of the use of compulsory licensing, measures for addressing “evergreening” of patents, disclosure requirements, and anti-competitive measures. It also discusses enforcement mechanisms and counterfeits. The aim of the suggested steps is to streamline access and reduce delays, it said.

    “The pursuit of the law reform recommendations found in this paper can contribute to the Government’s achievement of its policy objectives and Constitutional commitments to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the right to medicines not only for these diseases,” it said, “but also for other HIV co-infections and non-communicable diseases.”

    Medicines Access and Draft National IP Policy

    Meanwhile, several nongovernmental groups, including Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders), have been working under the ‘Fix The Patent Laws’ campaign to call for reforms to the country’s IP laws to increase access to affordable drugs.

    According to an MSF release, the desired reforms include:

    -       “implementing an examination systems for all pharmaceutical patents
    -       strengthening patentability criteria for drugs
    -       enhancing transparency of the Patent office around patent applications
    -       allowing for pre- and post-grant oppositions to patents
    -       making compulsory licensing easier
    -       allowing for research on new drugs under patent.”

    The draft policy was published for public comment in early September, the release said, and was welcomed by the campaign, as “the principles outlined set the stage for changes that will increase competition in the pharmaceutical sector and lower the price of medicines in South Africa.”

    Separately, a group of South African academics has submitted comments to the Department of Trade and Industry about the new draft national policy. Their comments are available here.

    Despite errors in the text, they said, “the overall intention of the draft policy is in our view good: it is grounded in a developmental approach appropriate to our country, and seeks to eliminate the many negative outcomes of IP protection which are detrimental to the broader society.”

     

    William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. Saving Lives with IP Law? - IPLJ says:

      […] UNDP report recommends that the South African government take international trade law into account when developing reforms, particularly the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement […]


    Leave a Reply

    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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