WHO IP Submissions Going Public; Working Paper Ready In July03/04/2007 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (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)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.By Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen BRUSSELS – Sixteen member states of the World Health Organization have submitted their views on the way forward for an intergovernmental working group on public health and intellectual property, according to a senior WHO official. The views are expected to be posted online this week.These documents relate to the WHO Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (“IGWG”), which will provide a plan on how to boost the development of medicines for diseases in poor countries by May 2008. It held its first meeting in December 2006, where it was decided that countries could submit their views on an outcome (A/PHI/IGWG/1/5) document from the meeting (IPW, Public Health, 30 January 2007).Elil Renganathan of the WHO IGWG secretariat told Intellectual Property Watch that the submissions from member states would be posted to WHO’s website as soon as 3 April. The original deadline for these submissions was end of February, but some member states needed more time, he said. WHO now will turn these into a working document, which should be ready in July, Renganathan said.Regional WHO meetings are being held on the IGWG. Europe region meetings are being held in Turkey and Moscow, and a meeting was held by the regional office for Southeast Asia in early March, he said. Another source said that the Moscow meeting was to reach out to regional WHO members and get them involved in the IGWG process as they are facing a rising rate of diseases such as HIV/AIDS.At the World Health Assembly in May there will be a technical briefing, Renganathan said, and a progress report will be discussed. Finally, a second online hearing is scheduled for August and September, he said.Renganathan said there had been “a lot of engagement from member states” and other stakeholders on the IGWG, showing a shift since the Executive Board meeting in January when more activity was called for.The IGWG was the topic of an expert workshop held by the German presidency of the European Union and the European Commission in Brussels on 2 April (see related story to come). The Commission also is planning to hold a meeting on the issue with civil society in late May or early June.An official from Portugal, which takes over the EU presidency on 1 July, told Intellectual Property Watch that it also plans to hold consultations with member states on the issue, probably in September or October. It already has started holding bilateral talks with Brazil, he said.The Portuguese government strategy will be oriented toward action given the tight schedule of the IGWG. The second and last meeting of the IGWG is scheduled for November, and it has until May 2008 to come up with a roadmap in the form of a “global strategy and plan of action” as to how research and development into, but also access to, medicines for diseases disproportionately affecting developing countries may be secured.A Swiss official said that the constructive spirit under which the resolution founding the IGWG had been reached was key to the process, noting that this spirit had been lacking at the December meeting (IPW, Public Health, 11 December 2006) and at the Executive Board meeting in January. At that meeting, Kenya and Switzerland circulated a proposal on early implementation issues, which was later withdrawn. The proposal will not be re-submitted at the World Health Assembly in May, he said.The Swiss official said that in his view some 80 percent of the IGWG topics drawn from the recommendations of the 2006 report of the WHO Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health dealt with non-IP issues. He said that IP should not be left out, but distinguished these issues from the public health issues (such as R &D for these diseases) which he said could be dealt with first before moving to the “controversial issues.”Separately, Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that IP will constitute an important part of the agenda of the Group of Eight meeting in Heiligendamm, Germany in June. Also, at a HIV/AIDS conference in Bremen in March, access to drugs for diseases such as HIV/AIDS was highlighted and written into a declaration from the meeting, sources said.Tove Gerhardsen may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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