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
645. Switzerland attaches great importance to improving access to medicines, strengthening global health research, protection of intellectual property and promotion of human rights. These are priorities for Switzerland and are stipulated as explicit goals in its Health Foreign Policy. Based on this policy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Switzerland participates in many programmes and initiatives aimed at improving access to medicines, particularly in low-income developing countries. 646. We note that the Report of the United Nations Secretary-Generals High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines (HLP) was not mandated by UN Member States, but commissioned by the UN Secretary-General. 647. The issue of access to medicines is a complex one. Switzerland thus regrets that in light of the comprehensive and integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the mandate of the High-Level Panel was very narrow in scope and presumes as a starting-point policy incoherence between IPRs of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules and public health. This limits the utility of the Report's analysis. To implement the title of the Report promoting innovation and access to health technologies, the mandate should have incorporated a more holistic approach. 648. The Report makes a number of useful proposals, some of which are currently being explored in the competent international organizations, among which the creation of a publicly accessible database with patent information status, or ideas on how to deal with publicly funded research. 649. Switzerland, however, takes a different view with regard to the Report's recommendations related to IPRs. The Report fails to fully recognize the key role that IPRs play in incentivizing research and development of new medicines. Governments are free to use the flexibilities contained in the WTO TRIPS Agreement. However, a systematic weakening of IPRs, as several recommendations in the Panel's report suggest, will discourage medical innovation and thus not be conducive but risk to be prejudicial to the goal of better access to medicines. 650. In this context, we would have welcomed a more thorough analysis of existing initiatives and approaches which promote research and development and, by the same token, improve access to medical products for people in low- and middle-income countries. We believe that building on voluntary and inclusive efforts, such as the Medicines Patent Pool or the Global Fund's e procurement platform, instead of denouncing the IP System, is the way forward and corresponds better to the collaborative spirit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 651. The Report also seems not to take adequately into account all the work that competent international organizations and their members have already undertaken or are currently undertaking with regard to addressing the access to medicines issue. 652. With the now-impending entry into force of the Paragraph 6 Amendment of the TRIPS Agreement, we reviewed yesterday one of the key contributions of the WTO: the new Article 31 bis puts all WTO Members on a level playing field in the use of the TRIPS flexibility as contained in Article 31 of the TRIPS Agreement. 653. We refer more particularly to WHO's extensive work on access to medicines, including the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property and the follow-up work based on the Report of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development on Coordination and Financing for Neglected Diseases. 654. My delegation also recalls the Trilateral Study of WHO, WIPO and the WTO on Promoting Access to Medical Technologies and Innovation. The Trilateral Study contains a comprehensive and robust presentation of the many factors, including those relating to IP, that matter when examining the challenges of access to medicines and when looking for possible solutions for them. 655. Proposals to establish further parallel processes or duplicate such work are not helpful. We should concentrate on concrete outcomes of the said work already under way in the competent organizations to which Switzerland is strongly committed.
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