Health Assembly Sets Up Drafting Group On Brazil IP Proposal 21/05/2007 by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a 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 The World Health Assembly on 21 May set up a drafting group to discuss a Brazilian proposal that could give direction to ongoing discussions on public health, innovation and intellectual property and potentially reinforce the use of trade law for public health. The drafting group is expected to start its work late on 21 May, and be chaired by Namibia. The assembly, the annual meeting of the World Health Organization member governments, ends on 23 May. Meanwhile, Brazil also introduced a revised draft of the resolution, which it presented on 17 May (A60/B/Conf.Paper No.3 rev. 1) (IPW, Public Health, 17 May 2007). The revisions include words like “should” to “shall,” and “laboratory kits” to “diagnostic tools.” The draft resolution from Brazil focuses on specific steps that can be taken by the Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (IGWG), which is mandated to have a global strategy and plan of action for boosting research and development (R&D) of medicines for neglected diseases ready by May 2008 (IPW, Public Health, 20 May 2007). The draft highlights the need for research and development priorities, and emphasises that the strategy and plan should ensure the “unobstructed implementation” of the flexibilities found in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), requesting WHO to take an active role in helping member states make use of these flexibilities. These provide some leeway for countries in applying the terms of TRIPS to areas such as public health. The draft also includes a call for WHO technical and financial support for regional meetings “in order to set regional priorities that will inform the work of the IGWG.” Among the countries that expressed support for the Brazilian resolution were the African region, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador, sources said. The United States, Germany on behalf of the European Union, and Canada said the discussion should focus on the “process” of the IGWG. Switzerland said this resolution should not “pre-empt the ongoing process” of IGWG, which Canada echoed. Germany referred to what it called “substantive changes” introduced in the revised draft on 21 May. The United States said it preferred a “tightened-up process on this.” Some sources said that the revised draft included more of the original language from the 17 May draft, and was not what was referred to as a “toned down” version from an informal meeting on 19 May. This version contains a number of references to the TRIPS agreement, such as: “Stressing that the global strategy and plan of action shall constitute an agreed framework of reference to ensure unobstructed implementation of the TRIPS flexibilities and the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.” The new version also welcomes, “with enthusiasm,” the commitment made by the Director General Margaret Chan to the IGWG process last week. It deletes earlier proposal to support pro-health management of IP such as patent pools. Avian Influenza On 21 May, the drafting group on avian and pandemic influenza set up last week was continuing work on a chair’s draft, sources said. The group is chaired by a Thai official. A source said the draft was based on the debate and discussions in the drafting group. It was also based on a background paper from the drafting group, which is based on an avian flu resolution (EB 120/R7) agreed to by the WHO Executive Board in January, to which text from an Indonesian-sponsored resolution and one from the United States have been added. These resolutions were introduced at the assembly (IPW, Public Health, 16 May 2007). Draft Resolution on Children’s Medicines Includes TRIPS Separately, some intellectual property language has been introduced in a draft resolution on “Better medicines for children,” which was published with the changes in a 21 May version (A60/B/Conf.Paper No.4). Brazil suggested language referring directly to the use of flexibilities in TRIPS, “in order to guarantee access to medicines for children,” replacing vaguer language referring to using, “where appropriate, existing international trade agreements that might impact health.” Thailand suggested that the draft should recognise the ongoing work of the IGWG and “the need to ensure harmonisation of WHO’s work on access to essential medicines.” Thailand also added the WTO, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the pharmaceutical industry to partners WHO should collaborate with in this area, according to the new draft. Tove Gerhardsen may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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