Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

Ambassador Puangrat Asavapisit (Thailand)
World Health Organization (WHO)
71. The representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, in affirming that the TRIPS Agreement "can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO Members' right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all" marked a watershed in the international trade regime. It demonstrated that the multilateral rules-based trading system could be rendered compatible with public health interests. The WHO remained fully committed to supporting WTO and its Members in the implementation of this Declaration. The same commitment applied to the Decision, on which the WHO had recently published a paper, copies of which had been made available to delegates. The WHO explained that this paper examined the options available for countries to make use of the system to export and import generic versions of patented medicines produced under compulsory licences. Its approach was guided by the principle that patients in a country with little or no domestic pharmaceutical production capacity should be protected by compulsory licensing provisions (or, indeed, by other TRIPS safeguards) to the same extent as patients in countries capable of producing pharmaceutical products. 72. A public-health-oriented interpretation and implementation of the Decision would mean the following: full or broad coverage in terms of health problems and the appropriate range of medicines for their prevention and/or treatment; simple and speedy legal procedures in both importing and exporting countries; equality of opportunities for countries in need of medicines, even for products not patented in the importing country; a wide choice of potential suppliers of the medicines required, both from developed and developing countries; and transparency and predictability of the applicable rules in the exporting and importing countries. Ideally, all these elements should be incorporated into a stable international legal framework. He recalled that the Decision took the form of a waiver that was to remain in force until replaced by a permanent amendment to the TRIPS Agreement. In this regard, the WHO had noted with appreciation that the deadline for the amendment had been extended from June 2004 to the end of March 2005. During this interim period, therefore, it should be a priority for countries to make full and effective use of the waiver, including amending national legislations where necessary. 73. He said that it would be useful if country experiences and lessons on the use of the Decision were taken into account in the amendment of the TRIPS Agreement. However, it was noted that, to date, no WTO Member had made use of, or had notified its intention to make use of, the system that had been established under the Decision for importation. He said that it may be beneficial to undertake an assessment to ascertain the reasons for this as input into the debate on the issue of the adoption of an amendment to the TRIPS Agreement.