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

H.E. Ambassador Dr. Walter Werner
World Health Organization (WHO)
605.   The World Health Organization (WHO) works under the premise that "Health is a human right. No one should get sick or die just because they are poor, or because they cannot access the services they need" (Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus). The Nations of the world agreed on SDGs, in particular SDG 3 to "Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages". WHO needs to work with all Members and other international organizations to achieve this specific health goal, but health is also relevant for all the other SDGs and it lays the foundation for long-term economic development. 606.   Competition Law is one important tool to promote innovation and access to health technologies. Anti-competitive behaviour in relation to intellectual property could appear, for example, with life-cycle management practices and defensive patenting. For example, the European Commission welcomed the Court of Justice judgment in a case on abuse of dominant position to prevent or delay market entry of generic competitors through misuse of the patent system and regulatory procedures. There are also other cases in relation to overly restrictive conditions in medical technology licensing or mergers between pharmaceutical companies that can lead to undesirable market concentration and pay-for-delay agreements between originator and generic companies. More examples of abuse of dominant position for driving out competitors are in China where NDRC fined two pharmaceutical companies for abusive conducts, found the UK Competition Authority imposed a fine on two pharmaceutical companies (originator and distributor) for abuse of a dominant position and charging excessive and unfair prices for a medicine. Other cases in Indonesia, Thailand or cases involving more than one country are reported by UNCTAD Commission on Investment, Technology and Financial Issues and also a further case analysis was made by UNDP in several publications on that topic. 607.   Anti-competitive practices may lead to barriers to innovation and access in the medical sector. It is essential therefore to utilize all policy tools available to increase access to medicines, vaccines and other health technologies. IP protection is not exempted from the application of competition law. Effective use of competition policy could be in the best interests of patients and health systems. 608.   WHO with its transparency policy in terms of pricing of medicines is seeking to contribute to the assessment of such anti-competitive practices. We are open to work in this field with Members and other international organizations, including the WTO.
The representatives of South Africa, Brazil, India, China, Indonesia, the United States of America, Japan, the European Union and the WHO took the floor.
53.   The Chair said that the item "Intellectual Property and the Public Interest: Promoting Public Health Through Competition Law and Policy" had been added to the agenda at the request of the Delegation of South Africa. It had been co-sponsored by Brazil and India since the circulation of the revised draft agenda. The co-sponsors had also submitted a communication on this topic (circulated in document IP/C/W/649 and addenda), which included questions to guide the discussion.
54.   The representatives of South Africa, Brazil, India, China, Indonesia, the United States of America, Japan, the European Union and the WHO took the floor.
IP/C/M/90, IP/C/M/90/Add.1