Negotiators On UN TB Resolution May Have A Deal 23/08/2018 by William New and David Branigan, Intellectual Property Watch 23 Comments 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)NEW YORK – Negotiators for a United Nations declaration on tuberculosis, meeting intensively in New York this week, may have reached agreement today on a key sticking point related to intellectual property, innovation and access to new medicines, according to sources. An agreement, if accepted by other delegations, could allow the text to proceed to the high-profile High-Level Meeting scheduled to take place at the UN General Assembly next month. Delegates from the United States and South Africa have been at odds over the draft UN Political Declaration on Tuberculosis, specifically over the removal by the US of language in the body of the text referring to the flexibilities for developing countries in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects on Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). It would now be up to the two co-facilitators – the ambassadors from Japan and Antigua & Barbuda – of the process to draft the final language of the declaration and circulate it to member states. But it is likely that if South Africa and United States have an agreement, the co-facilitators may vet the language informally with key delegations, perhaps such the Group of 77 developing countries and the European Union. If it seems to be acceptable, they would then circulate it to all member states for approval. This is done in a “silence” period, after which if no member states objects, it is approved. A first silence period was held on a draft text in late July and was broken by South Africa, which reportedly felt the language on ensuring affordability of medicines had been overly weakened. TB is a major concern in South Africa, which has many low-income patients. The latest public draft declaration text was dated 20 July and is available here [pdf]. It does not contain a reference to TRIPS flexibilities in the operational section of the document, only in the introductory section. No details on today’s possible agreed language were available at press time, but it is understood that it would be the provision relating to affordable medicines and TRIPS flexibilities, and likely reflects a compromise. Effect on Non-Communicable Diseases Declaration Separately, UN member states are negotiating for a second High-Level Meeting declaration, on non-communicable diseases (NCDs, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or cancer). This document also has been held up over a similar provision referencing TRIPS flexibilities. Although the process is separate, a breakthrough on the TB declaration could be considered by negotiators on the NCD declaration. In that negotiation, the United States is negotiating with the G-77 as a whole, represented by Egypt, according to sources. The TRIPS references in both texts were drawn from a report on global health and foreign policy (doc A/Res/72/139) that was approved by the full UN. But a UN press release from that approval event in December presaged US resistance, stating, “While recognizing the importance of access to affordable, safe and effective medicines, she [US delegate] expressed regret over the inclusion of unacceptable language on the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade‑Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health.” The High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis is scheduled for 26 September, with the High-Level Meeting on NCDs on 27 September. High-level speakers addressing these events are expected to include Bill Gates at the TB meeting and Michael Bloomberg at the NCD meeting. TB Declaration Texts For comparison, the language in an earlier draft of the TB declaration (dated 25 June) – completely removed from the 20 July draft – stated: “OP14 [To come up with agreeable text or not to be included] OP14 (former OP7 quat G77): [USA delete para: Commit to urgently [CANZ replace: removing obstacles that limit the addressing the limited] capacity of countries to provide affordable and effective tuberculosis prevention, diagnosis and treatment [G77: as well as treatment for comorbidities and coinfections] and to reducing costs associated with care [G77: and multidrug-resistant treatment] including by amending national laws and regulations, as deemed appropriate by respective Governments, [EU: while assuring the full respect of each countries international obligations, in particular those under the World Trade Organization] so as to optimize: i. The use to the full, of existing flexibilities under the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) specifically geared to promoting access to and trade in medicines; and ensure that intellectual property rights provision in trade agreements do not undermine existing flexibilities, as confirmed in the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health; ii. By encouraging all states to apply measures and procedures for enforcing intellectual property rights [EU: in line with the TRIPS Agreement and the Doha Declaration] in such a manner as to avoid creating barriers to the legitimate trade in medicines and innovation, and to provide for safeguards against the abuse of such measures and procedures; iii. Addressing barriers, regulations policies and practices, including regulatory strategies, that prevent access and use to affordable and effective tuberculosis diagnostic and treatment; and iv. Encouraging the use, where appropriate [EU: and in line with the TRIPS Agreement and the other regulations pertaining to data protection], of voluntary mechanisms such as collaborative R&D platforms, open licensing and sharing of data and patent pools, including through entities such as the medicines, patent pool, [EU: and product development partnerships] to help to promote competition to reduce treatment costs and shortage and encourages development of new tuberculosis drug regimens;” 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 William New may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.David Branigan may be reached at email@example.com."Negotiators On UN TB Resolution May Have A Deal" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.