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

Ambassador Mero (United Republic of Tanzania)
13 The United Nations Secretary-General's High-Level Panel Report on Access to Medicines
597. On 28 October 2016, the delegations of Brazil, China, India and South Africa, circulated document IP/C/W/619. This document places the United Nations Secretary-General's High-Level Panel Report on Access to Medicines on the agenda of the TRIPS Council. The Panel's mandate was "to review and assess proposals and recommend solutions for remedying the policy incoherence between the justifiable rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules and public health in the context of health technologies". 598. The High-Level Panel recommendations call for WTO Members to commit to respect the WTO Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health and to refrain from any action that would limit its implementation. The Panel recommends that countries should make full use of the flexibilities enshrined in the TRIPS Agreement, and use the policy space available in Article 27 of TRIPS Agreement "by adopting and applying rigorous definitions of invention and patentability that are in the best interests of the public health of the country", including amending laws to curtail the ever-greening of patents and awarding patents only when genuine invention has occurred. Governments are also called to adopt and implement legislation facilitation the issuance of compulsory licences. 599. The Report further notes that many governments have not used flexibilities available under the TRIPS Agreement for various reasons, ranging from capacity constraints to undue political and economic pressure form states and corporations, both express and implied. The Panel concludes that political and economic pressure placed on governments to forgo the use of TRIPS flexibilities violates the integrity and legitimacy of the system of legal rights and duties created by the TRIPS Agreement and reaffirmed by the Doha Declaration. 600. The Panel also recommends that governments engaged in bilateral and regional trade and investment treaties should ensure that these agreements do not include provisions that interfere with their obligations to fulfil the right to health. It points out that provisions found in RTAs may impede access to health technologies, including those requiring governments to ease standards of patentability, drug regulatory authorities to link marketing approval to the absence of any claimed patent and the requiring of test data exclusivity instead of test data protection, to list a few. 601. It is with interest that this delegation notes the contribution of the Netherlands to the "Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines for Universal Health Coverage". Ministers Ploumen and Schippers note in their contribution to the report that, inter alia, and I quote "Steps need to be taken to bolster the safeguards in the TRIPS Agreement. The Netherlands is campaigning for these safeguards to be maintained in negotiations on free trade agreements with developing countries. We will intensify our efforts to prevent so-called TRIPS Plus provisions in free trade agreements that are being negotiated by the EU and other high income countries. In this respect we agree with the recommendations of the UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines that governments and private actors must abstain from retaliatory threats that undermine the right of WTO Members to use safeguard measures." 602. The High-Level Report highlights various issues that affect access to essential medicines including the use of flexibilities recognized by the TRIPS Agreement. It notes that flexibilities are not exceptions but fully fledged rights recognized in the TRIPS Agreement. The Report is a rich repository and reference document which we intend to use as a reference point to conduct further discussion in the TRIPS Council regarding issues that are pertinent and relevant to its mandate. We would welcome further dialogue and contributions from other Members.
The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to take the matter up as an ad hoc agenda item at its next meeting.
70. The Chairman said that Brazil, China, India and South Africa had requested that this item be added to the agenda. They had submitted a communication that briefly introduced the item, circulated in document IP/C/W/619.

71. The representatives of India, Brazil, South Africa, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Russian Federation, the United States, Canada, the European Union, Chile, Australia, Switzerland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Plurinational State of Bolivia and Norway took the floor.

72. The representatives of the Holy See, WHO, UNCTAD, and UNAIDS took the floor.

73. The representative of the Secretariat took the floor.

74. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to take the matter up as an ad hoc agenda item at its next meeting.

IP/C/M/83, IP/C/M/83/Add.1