Europe Told Of Obligations On Virus Benefit-Sharing14/12/2010 by Catherine Saez, 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 and its Global Health Policy News are non-profit independent news services and depend on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.In what may be the first legal reference to newly adopted international rules on sharing the benefits of and access to genetic resources, non-governmental groups have sent letters to top European health officials reminding them of these obligations in the context of influenza viruses and access to vaccines – a topic under debate this week at the World Health Organization. The letters come in a week where WHO members are gathered in the second round of an Open-Ended Working Group on Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: Sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines and other benefits. It is part of a renewed push to finalise outstanding areas of a WHO plan for responding to global health crises resulting from the influenza virus. Negotiations have been stalled for nearly two years by disagreements over a legally-binding Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) and some intellectual property issues within the plan (IPW, WHO, 6 December 2010).According to the NGOs, the EU “has been resisting calls by many developing countries to negotiate a SMTA that includes concrete benefit-sharing obligations for sharing of influenza viruses with the WHO Network laboratories as well as with third party entities.”Two letters were co-signed by the Third World Network and the Church Development Service, and the third letter was co-signed with the Berne Declaration. They refer to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity protocol on access and benefit sharing (ABS), which was agreed in October in Nagoya, Japan, and must be ratified by governments.The letters say that the “ABS protocol negotiations have established that the scope of the Protocol and as such the Convention of Biological Diversity extends to pathogens, including influenza viruses being shared under the auspices of the World Health Organization.”They were sent to European Health Commissioner John Dalli, German Federal Health Minister Philipp Rösler – both dated 6 December – and the Head of International Affairs Division at the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, Gaudenz Silberschmidt, dated 2 December.Too little emphasis is brought to the fair and equitable benefit-sharing in the WHO pandemic influenza preparedness, said the letters, which called for the EU to ensure “that influenza biological materials and/or products developed using such materials are not appropriated through the use of intellectual property rights.” The WHO negotiations are taking place in Geneva from 13-17 December.Click here [pdf], here [pdf] and here [pdf] to read the letters.Kaitlin Mara contributed to this story. Share 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)RelatedCatherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Europe Told Of Obligations On Virus Benefit-Sharing" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.