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

Ms Irene Young (Hong Kong, China)
World Health Organization (WHO)
283. I would like to highlight a few of our activities contained in our annual report (IP/C/W/633/Add.2). And I apologize already in advance for a rather lengthy statement. One area where the current IP system does not provide enough incentives for investment is in the development of new antibiotics. To support progress in this area, WHO and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) have established the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP). This not-for-profit research and development organization is developing new antibiotics addressing public health priorities while endeavoring to ensure sustainable access and their appropriate use. On 4 September 2017, a number of countries and foundations pledged €56.5 million to finance GARDP over the next years. The meeting was hosted in Berlin by the German Federal Ministry of Health and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. 284. Over the course of the last year, WHO developed a specific work stream on fair pricing. A Fair Pricing Forum was held from 10-11 May 2017 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in collaboration with the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. The main objective of the forum was to discuss options for a fairer pricing system that is sustainable for both health systems and innovation. Future work will focus on increasing transparency of prices, production and research & development costs, encouraging collaboration between payers as well as providing technical support to countries in reforming their procurement and pricing systems. 285. Let me turn to hepatitis C, a viral disease that triggered a lot of debate in the past years. Worldwide, approximately 71 million people are living with chronic hepatitis C virus infections and millions more are newly infected each year. Annually, approximately 400,000 people die from HCV-related complications. Until 2013, once infected with HCV there was little chance of being cured, particularly for people living in low- or middle-income countries. Since then, new revolutionary treatments can cure chronic hepatitis infections. But these treatments have been introduced at high prices, in particular in developed countries, increasing pressure on health budgets and limiting access. 286. In 2016, WHO published the first global report on access to these new hepatitis C treatments. The report provides the information that countries and health authorities need to identify the appropriate treatment, and procure it at an affordable price. The report uses the experience of several pioneering countries to demonstrate how countries deal with high prices and how barriers to access of treatment can be overcome. It provides information on the manufacturers of the WHO recommended new treatments, including where the drugs are registered, prices, patent status and licence agreements. 287. The new trilateral WHO-WIPO-WTO joint online course on Promoting Access to Medical Technologies and Innovation is also under way, which gives an overview of the factors that shape access to, and influence innovation of, medical technologies. The course describes how these two issues are connected and span the policy fields of public health, intellectual property and international trade. In 2016/17 more than 400 students from all over the world enrolled in the course that, very generously, is regularly run by the WIPO Academy on behalf of the three organizations as part of our on-going collaboration. 288. On 26 February 2018, WHO, WIPO and WTO will organize their sixth trilateral symposium in Geneva at the WHO Headquarters. The theme this year, as has already been mentioned by the WTO Secretariat, will focus on implementation of the Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goals agenda at the crossroads of trade, IP and health policies.
The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
49. The Chairperson recalled that, at its meeting in June, the Council had agreed to hold the annual review of technical cooperation at the present meeting. Developed country Members had been requested to update information on their technical and financial cooperation activities relevant to the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement. Other Members who also provided technical cooperation were encouraged to share information on these activities. The Secretariat had issued an airgram, on 4 July 2017, reminding Members of this request. Intergovernmental organizations, which were observers to the Council, and the WTO Secretariat had also been invited to provide information.

50. The Council had received information from: Japan, Australia, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland and Norway (IP/C/W/632 and its addenda). The report from the European Union and some of its individual member States and agencies, namely Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, as well as the Community Plant Variety Office had been received shortly before the meeting and was being circulated as an addendum to document IP/C/W/632.

51. The following intergovernmental organizations had also submitted updated information: the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), and the World Customs Organization (WCO) (IP/C/W/633 and addenda). Updated information on the WTO Secretariat's own technical cooperation activities in the TRIPS area was available in document IP/C/W/634.

52. The Chairperson said that, since some of the information had been received only very recently, and most of it was, so far, available only in its original language, she intended to provide Members a further opportunity to comment on the information at the Council's next meeting.

53. The representatives of Australia; the United States; Norway; the European Union; Canada; Japan; New Zealand, the WTO Secretariat, ARIPO, the GCC, the WHO, UNCTAD, India, Brazil, and China took the floor.

54. The Chairperson said that the reports by Members and IGO observers provided valuable information about specific activities, as well as the broader policy considerations that were guiding capacity building activities of individual Members and Observers. She encouraged Members to make good use of this resource.

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

IP/C/M/87, IP/C/M/87/Add.1