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

Mr. Martin Glass (Hong Kong, China)
F.5 Any alternatives to the use of the Paragraph 6 System to achieve the objective of access to medicines, procurement policies, and other related aspects affecting access to medicines
278. The representative of Colombia noted that his delegation was interested in examining whether the international rules that Members had agreed upon genuinely facilitated access to medicines. Access to medicines involved correctly assessing the needs of the population and undertaking research, development, production and supply of medicines to meet those needs, so as to ensure timely access to the medicines in sufficient quantities and at affordable prices for all. The regulatory environment should be both favourable to the industry and in the interests of public health. A balance needed to be found between the incentives for the industry and the creation of a competitive market. The System had sought to achieve this goal in response to the specific situation of Members who had insufficient or no manufacturing capacities in the pharmaceutical sector and faced difficulties in making effective use of compulsory licensing. 279. He questioned, however, whether the System was the only instrument and whether its design and implementation were optimal for achieving the goal of supporting public health. With respect to the first question, the System was clearly not the only intellectual property instrument aimed at attaining these goals. Compulsory licensing, more stringent patentability criteria, exceptions to patentability, parallel imports and control of abuse of intellectual property rights by right owners were other valid tools for protecting public health. Likewise, there were mechanisms beyond the intellectual property sphere that were directed towards the same objective. Accurate and widely available price information and mechanisms to promote competition were powerful tools to that end. With respect to the second question, his delegation viewed the System as both limited and complex. Moreover, its requirements had led to delays and costs which made it a somewhat unattractive option presently. Those aspects should be further discussed in the interests of achieving an effective implementation of the System. He noted that only 30 Members had notified their acceptance of the Protocol Amending the TRIPS Agreement. Colombia had notified its acceptance in August 2009. If the rate of adoption continued at its current pace of six Members per year since 2008, it would take at least three more years for this flexibility to become a permanent part of the Agreement. He urged all Members whose domestic acceptance procedures were still under way to complete the process.