World Health Assembly Takes On R&D, Pandemics, Not Counterfeits 18/05/2009 by Kaitlin Mara 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)The annual World Health Assembly kicks off Monday with key issues of intellectual property and public health on the agenda, but the plan to end the assembly early this year in the face of the pandemic influenza crisis has trimmed talks on counterfeit medicines from the meeting, according to official sources. Discussions on implementation of a global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property are still on the agenda, and attention to IP issues related to a framework for pandemic influenza preparedness might be getting more time than expected as delegates failed to reach agreement over the weekend. The World Health Assembly (WHA) was originally scheduled to meet from 18-27 May, but is now expected to end early on 22 May to allow national health leaders still concerned over a possible outbreak of influenza to return to their capitals. The official agenda will go up Monday, but a tentative programme is available here [pdf]. Meanwhile, sources confirmed to Intellectual Property Watch that Peter Beyer – a member of the Swiss Office of Intellectual Property – is now working at the WHO. It is unclear as of yet if this is a permanent move or if he has been seconded for a limited time. Beyer is known for taking positions in favour of developed country industry. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to address the WHA on Tuesday. He said on 5 May that in response to the global swine flu outbreak, he would be in the next weeks asking governments to reach agreement on sharing of samples of viral and other materials, as well as data on outbreaks. He also would push them to “establish coordinated long-term financing mechanisms for supporting poorer countries so that they are able to build their defences against global health threats,” the WHO said. Governments will be asked to ensure WHO has all the resources it needs. Ban also plans to meet on 19 May with donors, technical partners and the private sector, including the pharmaceutical industry, “to explore how all can contribute,” WHO said. Two new reports on counterfeit medical products were released by the WHO secretariat on 30 April. These reports came after a vigorous debate during the January Executive Board meeting that ended with member states requesting additional reporting on the public health aspects of counterfeit drugs and also substandard medicines. During the Executive Board meeting, it was said that if consensus could not be reached during the May assembly, member states may decide to have an intergovernmental group meet between sessions on the topic. WHO sources said prior to the assembly the counterfeit issue has been postponed, and what will happen to the process now that it is off the agenda is unclear. At issue with counterfeit and substandard medical products is the controversial question of how to protect public safety from unsafe drugs without blocking legitimate generic products. More background on this issue is available at IPW, WHO, 27 January 2009. The other key issue on the IP front at the assembly is an update on the ongoing implementation of the global strategy. An expert working group on innovative financing created under the WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property is scheduled to submit a progress report to the assembly. This group was widely hailed as one of the key outcomes of the intergovernmental process leading to the global strategy. More background on this issue is available at IPW, WHO, 28 January 2009. It met for the first time in January, during which mainly procedural issues were discussed. Substantive work was said to be ongoing via an online consultative process, but details of this work have yet to be released. An online consultation process – in which suggestions for the working group were submitted by interested stakeholders – closed on 15 April. Submissions made during the consultation are available here. 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 Kaitlin Mara may be reached at email@example.com."World Health Assembly Takes On R&D, Pandemics, Not Counterfeits" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.