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

Ambassador Federico A. González (Paraguay) (24-25 October) and Mr. Martin Glass (Hong Kong, China) (17 November)
World Health Organization (WHO)
340. The representative of the World Health Organization said that, given its distinctive mandate, the WHO only undertook technical cooperation activities to further the interest of public health. Technical cooperation activities on IP were not undertaken with the purpose of implementing the TRIPS Agreement as such, but to support the application and management of IP in a manner that enhanced health-related innovation, especially to meet the R&D needs of developing countries, and promoted access to medicines for all. 341. The WHO technical cooperation was driven by demand and based on its mandate derived from the Global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and IP as well as other relevant resolutions adopted by the World Health Assembly. The focus of implementation activities was on technical cooperation, including transfer of technology, capacity building and training as well as direct technical assistance to Member States. Details of the activities carried out in the past two years were contained in document IP/C/W/559/Add.1. 342. Further to the adoption of the Global strategy and plan of action, the WHO, WIPO and WTO had strengthened their efforts to coordinate work in the field of public health and IP to foster the understanding of public health policy and IP and to increase efficiency in capacity building and technical cooperation. Within the scope of that trilateral collaboration, the three organizations had started to organize a series of joint technical symposia to enhance the dialogue between the relevant organizations and provide a platform for exchanging information and experiences. The second symposium on "Access to medicines, Patent Information and Freedom to Operate" had been held in 18 February 2011 at the WHO in Geneva. 343. Currently, the three organizations were preparing a joint study on "Promoting access and medical innovation: intersections between public health, intellectual property and trade". The study was meant to be a sequel to the joint study by the WHO and WTO Secretariats on WTO agreements and public health published in 2002. The study would not only cover the relevant IP issues, but also issues about procurement, regulatory issues, mark ups in the supply chain, voluntary license agreements and tiered pricing, taxes, tariffs and other elements. 344. Following the negotiations on Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework, WIPO and the WHO had been jointly developing a global patent landscape on patenting trends in the field of vaccines. Until then, no comprehensive overview on patent trends in the field of vaccines existed. The patent landscape report was intended to provide an overview on what was being patented in terms of disease targets and approach, who was doing the patenting, where patents were filed and on how patent policies had changed over time. 345. To implement the 2006 Global Pandemic Influenza Action Plan (GAP), the WHO had facilitated transfer of influenza vaccine production technology to eleven developing country vaccine manufacturers. 346. To facilitate access to live attenuated influenza vaccine technology for producing a high-yield low-cost vaccine that was easy to administer, the WHO, on behalf of developing country vaccine manufacturers, had negotiated and acquired a transferable non-exclusive licence to that technology. Sub-licences to that technology had been granted to three developing country vaccine manufacturers and one of those was already marketing the resulting vaccine. 347. In vaccine production, adjuvants were used to enhance the immune response to an antigen, and enable the use of less antigen per dose of vaccine and hence, an increase in the number of doses that could be produced. To overcome current know-how barriers, the WHO had facilitated the establishment of an adjuvant technology transfer hub that was using the information described in patents on adjuvants to establish production processes in developing countries where the patents were not filed or granted. The technology had thus far been transferred to one developing country and technology transfer to another developing country was in process. 348. As part of the on-going trilateral collaboration, the WHO had also participated actively in training and capacity building workshops organized by and in collaboration with the WTO and WIPO. 349. In response to a question earlier raised by Nigeria with regard to voluntary licences, he said that the WHO had seen an increase in voluntary licensing programmes by research-based pharmaceutical industry in the past years. Those voluntary licence agreements concentrated on HIV Aids products and anti-viral treatment against influenza. While welcoming that development, he agreed with the delegation of Nigeria that little research had been undertaken concerning the detailed provisions in such licence agreements and what criteria from a public health perspective should be included. Further research and guidance was needed to increase the public health impact of such agreements.