WHO IP Commission Seeks To Overcome Leak Of Report To Industry 23/01/2006 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for 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)By Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen and William New A closed-door World Health Organisation commission appears to have reached tentative agreement on a draft report on intellectual property rights and public health, according to sources familiar with the situation, despite an alleged earlier leak of the draft or some portion of the draft to industry. The draft report begun in 2004 could have a significant impact on WHO policies toward intellectual property rights related to health. The 10 members of the commission drafting the report come from a variety of backgrounds, but are intended to be independent, and have worked through substantial disagreements to arrive at a tentative text whose final version is expected to be published in April. Debate is expected at this week’s meeting of the WHO Executive Board about whether the report will be sent to the World Health Assembly in May, according to a source. The United States is said to be opposed to its inclusion at the assembly, though this could not be confirmed at press time. The tentative agreement on the report was reached after a two-day meeting of the WHO Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH) on 16-17 January. Some commission members still could dissent, another source said. The chairwoman of the CIPIH, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, will brief the 23-28 January executive board meeting on the outcome of last week’s commission meeting instead of presenting the final report, as originally planned (IPW, UN 17 January 2006). The issue was preliminarily slated to come up on Wednesday afternoon, but may arise on Tuesday along with the topic of trade and health, the source said. According to informed sources, members of the commission agreed at the outset that the draft report would not be shared outside the commission, although its work was to be “as transparent and accessible as possible,” according to a 22 December update from the CIPIH secretariat. But in autumn 2005, comments from a pharmaceutical industry representative appeared in the text of a portion of the draft report, sources said. In an electronic version of draft report text, the tracking record revealed that comments were made directly into the text by Eric Noehrenberg, a lobbyist with the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations in Geneva, the sources said. It is unclear how Noehrenberg’s marks ended up in the report language. Noehrenberg told Intellectual Property Watch that he does not know how his name appeared in the text and denied having seen the report. He added that IFPMA has given input to the commission through the proper channels, and has an expert group on the issue. “There is no question of any indiscretion here,” he said. All of the commission members saw the industry comments and they were never taken into consideration for the tentatively agreed text, sources said. Commission member Fabio Pammolli, an Italian professor, was said by several sources to have been the source of the leak. But Pammolli denied this in a telephone conversation with Intellectual Property Watch. “I have never sent anything outside the commission,” he said, adding that there was no “external influence or pressure” on the report. “The rules were respected,” he said. The CIPIH was set up in 2004 based on a 2003 World Health Assembly resolution (IPW, UN, 13 January 2006). Its mission is to collect data from different actors involved in intellectual property rights, innovation and public health and to analyse how incentives and funding mechanisms may be created for research into, and the development of, medicines for diseases that “disproportionately affect developing countries,” according to the CIPIH website. Ellen ‘t Hoen of Médecins Sans Frontières told Intellectual Property Watch that while she had not seen the draft report, she hoped it would add to the messages of previous reports such as the United Kingdom’s Commission on Intellectual Property Rights and the task force on access to medicines of the UN MillenniumProject. “The last thing we need is another consensus report that brings nothing new,” ‘t Hoen said. “I hope that the CIPIH report also gives clear guidance to both WHO and countries on how to tackle the health R&D crisis while ensuring that essential health products become affordable and available.” She added: “Now we know that the report will be available in April there are no barriers to discussing the proposed resolution on a framework for essential health R&D at the WHA in May.” Kenyan Resolution on New Global R&D Framework on Agenda Separately, the WHO secretariat said that it is working with Kenya on the submission of a resolution to be considered for the WHO board meeting this week. The resolution was originally submitted to the WHO in November 2005 but because of procedural delays it did not make it to the board agenda yet (IPW, UN, 17 January 2006). But a WHO spokesperson said that they hoped to receive the resolution with the signatures of the member states and to complete the process on Monday. The draft resolution, “Global Framework on Essential Health Research and Development,” has been brought forward “from the floor,” and when the submission has been completed, it will be decided under which board agenda item it will be discussed, the spokesperson said. 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