UN General Assembly Resolution: TRIPS Flexibilities, High-Level Panel On Medicines Access 16/12/2016 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)The United Nations General Assembly this month is considering a resolution committing to elevate health issues to the highest levels of foreign policy. The resolution includes references and commitments related to dozens of existing instruments and tools aimed at improving health, including a full range of those on access to medicines, such as patent flexibilities under trade rules, and the recent report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on access to medicines and innovation. The resolution, A/71/L.41, titled, “Global health and foreign policy: health employment and economic growth,” was “adopted without a vote,” according to a UN release this week. But yesterday there was a list of country speakers to talk about it on the floor, including South Africa, Thailand, European Union, India, Russia, Israel, Bangladesh and the United States. UN General Assembly The resolution was cosponsored by Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, France, Indonesia, Japan, Liberia, Monaco, Morocco, Norway, Senegal, South Africa and Thailand. The resolution is dated 8 December but was circulated by the UN as adopted on 15 December. Countries have been making a concerted effort to address rising prices for some drugs and the seemingly endless gap between available drugs and their availability for the extreme poor. One focus of the effort has been on lowering prices by separating R&D costs from end-product pricing. The report of the High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines, Promoting Innovation and Access to Health Technologies is available here, and was reported on – including wide-ranging reactions by stakeholders – by Intellectual Property Watch here (IPW, United Nations, 14 September 2016). The High-Level Panel report has become controversial through resistance from a small number of developed countries whose industries benefit from the status quo. They fear its analysis of the impact on pricing of medical products from patents could lead to losses for their companies and ultimately a negative impact on development of new products. The report offers a range of recommendations for consideration by UN member states, such as delinkage of R&D from pricing, and sanctions for countries that deter others from using the agreed flexibilities in international trade rules. The language of the resolution reflects the debate that is arising across a range of UN agencies, where developing countries try to raise the High-Level Panel report, and developed countries demand instead a focus on a trilateral study between three agencies. That study, by the World Trade Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization and World Health Organization offers no recommendations, but rather is generally seen as descriptive of existing and past activities in the three agencies. Below are sections relating to access to medicines and existing instruments: “Recalling also Human Rights Council resolution 32/15 on access to medicines in the context of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, which recognizes, inter alia, that access to medicines, in particular essential medicines that are affordable safe, efficacious and of quality, is one of the fundamental elements in achieving progressively the full realization of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Recalling further the World Health Organization global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property, designed to promote medicinal innovation, build capacity and improve access to medicines, and reiterating that health research and development should be needs-driven, evidence-based, guided by the core principles of affordability, effectiveness, efficiency and equity and considered a shared responsibility,” … “Underlining the urgency of having strong and resilient health systems capable of implementing the International Health Regulations (2005), ensuring pandemic preparedness and the prevention and detection of and response to any outbreaks, and further underscoring the importance of motivated, well-trained and appropriately equipped health professionals and health workers, Noting that highly infectious pathogens with epidemic potential may evolve into public health emergencies of international concern, recognizing the need for strong local, national, regional and international preparedness and response in this field, and underlining the urgent need to accelerate the research and development of vaccines, medicines and diagnostic tools while ensuring the promotion of equitable and affordable access, through, inter alia, international cooperation and collaborative partnerships,” …. “Reaffirming the right to use, to the fullest extent, the provisions contained in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, the decision of the General Council of the World Trade Organization of 30 August 2003 on the implementation of paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health and, when formal acceptance procedures are completed, the amendment to article 31 of the TRIPS Agreement, as proposed by the General Council of the World Trade Organization in its decision of 6 December 2005, which provide flexibilities for the protection of public health, and in particular to promote access to medicines for all, and to encourage the provision of assistance to developing countries in this regard, and calling for broad and timely acceptance of the amendment to article 31 of the TRIPS Agreement, Recognizing the continued importance of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, which recognizes that intellectual property protection is important for the development of new medicines and also recognizes the concerns about its effects on prices,” … “12. Calls upon partnerships for global health to support Member States, including low-income countries, in carrying out their primary responsibility to accelerate the transition towards universal health coverage, which implies that all people have equal access, without discrimination of any kind, to nationally determined sets of quality promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative basic health services needed and essential, safe, affordable, effective and quality medicines, while ensuring that the use of such services and medicines does not expose the users to financial hardship, with a specific emphasis on the poor, vulnerable and marginalized segments of the population;” “15. Commits to support technology transfer arrangements on mutually agreed and advantageous terms with the objective of increasing the availability and affordability of medicines and related health technologies and to encourage the utilization of the multi-stakeholder forum on science, technology and innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals, created as a component of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism, to identify and examine technology needs and gaps;” “23. Requests the Secretary-General to promote discussion among Member States and relevant stakeholders on appropriate policy options to promote access to medicines, innovation and health technologies, as well as other, broader aspects, bearing in mind, as appropriate, all relevant reports, such as the report of the High-level Panel on Access to Medicines and the report of the World Health Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Trade Organization entitled Promoting Access to Medical Technologies and Innovation;” 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."UN General Assembly Resolution: TRIPS Flexibilities, High-Level Panel On Medicines Access" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.