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

Ambassador Al-Otaibi (Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia) and Ambassador Alfredo Suescum (Panama)
World Health Organization (WHO)
324. We seize the opportunity to highlight a number of the World Health Organization's technical cooperation activities that took place since our last report to the TRIPS Council in October 2014. 325. One major development that might be of interest to delegates is the recent revision of the WHO Essential Medicines List (EML). This list is an important tool to guide reimbursement decisions, procurement of medicines and the rational use of medicines in general. Essential medicines are those that satisfy the priority health care needs of the population. The selection of medicines is based on the public health relevance of the disease and a comprehensive review of available evidence for benefits and harms. 326. In April 2015, the WHO Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines added 16 new medicines for cancer, all six newly available innovative oral treatments for Hepatitis C and five tuberculosis treatments to the list. The inclusion reflects growing public health needs for example in the area of cancer as well as the emergence of more effective new innovative treatments for example in the area of Hepatitis C. Despite the fact, that the price of a treatment or the patent situation are not criteria that are considered by the Committee in its decision-making, traditionally the WHO EML included very few patented medicines as most priority health care needs can be addressed with off-patent medicines. The current revision of the list is adding several medicines that are still patented in major markets, namely all new oral treatments for Hepatitis C, several cancer drugs and two new treatments for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. By integrating these new medicines, WHO is underscoring the need for strategies to make these treatments affordable worldwide to facilitate equitable access. 327. In this context WHO works on providing more transparency on the patent situation of essential medicines. We published an analysis of the patent situation of seven new hepatitis treatments in August 2014 and updated the patent information on daclatasvir, ledipasvir and sofosbuvir in 2015. The patent working papers identify the most relevant patents and list the countries in which these patents have been filed and granted. We will continue to update these patent reports. 328. To allow health policy-makers to better understand the mechanisms linking trade and health, WHO published Trade and Health: Towards building a national strategy in September 2015. The book provides a comprehensive overview of issues relevant to the development of a national strategy on trade and health. Core evidence is presented to help decision-makers address the key challenges to public health, while taking advantage of new opportunities for achieving a higher standard of health, wealth and development. It can be downloaded from our website and you can find the link in our report IP/W/609/Add.5. 329. In 2015, the WHO Regional Office for Europe launched the report Access to new medicines in Europe: technical review of policy initiatives and opportunities for collaboration and research. The study explores how European countries are dealing with high spending on new medicines, including methods such as restrictive treatment guidelines, target levels for use of generics, and limitations on the use of particularly expensive drugs. The study also outlines possible policy directions and choices that may help governments to reduce high prices when introducing new drugs. 330. In July 2015, WHO collaborated with the Ethiopian government in developing and launching a National strategy and plan of action for pharmaceutical manufacturing development in Ethiopia. The report was launched by the Deputy-Prime Minister of Ethiopia, in the presence of the Director-General of WHO as well as many other global and regional leaders, ministers, ambassadors and high-level government officials in July 2015. Under strategic objective 5, the strategy and plan of action emphasizes the support for the development of a local cluster for the production of new active pharmaceutical ingredients. WHO is now working with the Ethiopian government to establish a mechanism for implementation of the strategy and monitoring of its impact. WHO's local production related technical support activities have been carried on in Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa and Indonesia. 331. These are just a few examples of activities we carried out during the last year. More ample information on technical cooperation activities under the WHO programme on public health and intellectual property can be found in document IP/C/W/609/Add.5. We would be glad to answer any questions delegations might have regarding these activities and send you the reports mentioned by email.
The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
12.1. The Chairman recalled that, at its meeting in June 2015, the Council had agreed to hold its annual review of technical cooperation at this meeting. He suggested that Members also discuss any other issues relating to this agenda item.

12.2. In preparation for the annual review, developed country Members had been once more requested to update information on their technical and financial cooperation activities relevant to the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement in time for this meeting. Other Members who also made available technical cooperation had been encouraged to share information on these activities if they so wished. The Secretariat had issued on 19 June 2015 an airgram (WTO/AIR/IP/4) reminding Members of this request. In addition, intergovernmental organizations observers to the Council as well as the WTO Secretariat had been invited to provide information.

12.3. To date, the Council had received information from the following developed country Members: Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, the United States, and Norway (IP/C/W/610 and addenda). The report submitted by the European Union and individual member States, namely Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, had been made available as a room document on documents online and would also be circulated as an addendum to document IP/C/W/610.

12.4. The Council had received updated information from the following intergovernmental organizations: FAO, GCC, OECD, WCO, UNCTAD, WHO, UPOV, and WIPO (IP/C/W/609 and addenda). Updated information on the WTO Secretariat's own technical cooperation activities in the TRIPS area was circulated in document IP/C/W/608.

12.5. He said that these reports provided very valuable information both as regards details of specific activities, but also the broader policy considerations that were guiding capacity building activities of individual Members and Observers. Nevertheless, much of this resource remained largely untapped which might also be due to the amount of information provided and the way in which this was done. In order to promote awareness and transparency, the Secretariat had repeatedly suggested that the information about specific activities be reported in table format. It had also provided regular updates with respect to its work aimed at identifying ways of facilitating the submission, processing and circulation of information on technical assistance.

12.6. The representatives of the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, and Ecuador took the floor.

12.7. The representative of the WTO Secretariat took the floor.

12.8. The representatives of the GCC, UNCTAD, WHO and WIPO took the floor.

12.9. The Chairman noted that some of the information had been received only very recently, and most of it was available only in its original language, and therefore proposed to provide Members an opportunity at the next meeting to make further comments on the information submitted for this meeting.

12.10. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.

IP/C/M/80, IP/C/M/80/Add.1