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

H.E. Ambassador Lundeg Purevsuren
704.   We would like to thank all delegations that took the floor. Just a short reflection on this debate. We thank especially the European Union delegation for having intervened and having raised important points. 705.   I would like to point out that this particular item does not deal with competition policy as such. It deals with price transparency and so is different in emphasis. I believe that in respect of the UN High Level Panel Report we disagree that the panel’s mandate was narrowly focused on the issues that both the European Union and the US point out. We note that some of the EU member States have taken different views on the issue including in the World Health Organization related to transparency of medicine prices. 706.   We would also like to address the issue of competition. The paper does not deal with competition per se. We would like to point out that the TRIPS Agreement is replete with references to competition. This specific Division has competition in its title. So, essentially, I think that as Members of the WTO we are competent to talk about competition. This is not to say that competition is the only issue on the table. We also thank some of the interventions which focused on the fact that access to medicines is complicated by various factors. I think we could agree. Anyone who reads the Trilateral Study which was issued fully understands that it is a complex landscape. The only purpose of putting this item on the agenda was essentially to focus attention on high medicine prices, and to also highlight the fact that transparency may be one of the main issues that we could use to look at this particular issue. 707.   South Africa has been proactive in ensuring that when it comes to the pricing of medicines, all the right policy and regulatory frameworks are in place, including a single price existence which is composed of a basket of various inputs based on purchasing parity of consumers, which is revised from time to time when authorizations are given for medicine as such. We also would like to touch on one of the points raised by the EU in respect of the WHO Essential Medicines List. Many of the medicines on the list are off-patent as correctly indicated. Over the course of time also patented medicines would be added to that list. These medicines remain quite expensive and so one of the issues is that given the fact that these medicines remain expensive they do put pressure on budgets that countries have for health purposes. 708.   We also would like to thank Switzerland for their intervention. We believe that prices necessarily imply that the patent exists, but pricing is also relevant in how companies essentially make a decision as to what level of pricing to introduce for that particular product or technology. As we indicate in our paper there are other factors which need to be included in this pricing decision including the fact that some of the research into medicine and high technology is from public funding, and as a result these inputs must be reflected and essentially the savings or support must be passed on in how final pricing methodologies are reached. I also recall the intervention of the United States which indicated that where public money is invested by the United States Government into the development of a product, the government usually insists on some government use license. These are all things that we have to take into account. I think this is a useful opportunity for us to reflect on the factors that affect access to medicines, one of them being the pricing. 709.   We also want to emphasize, as we have throughout this discussion on IP and the public interest, that there is no one magic bullet. We have to ensure that the system works overall. All of us have to do certain things including us developing countries getting our regulatory systems to work, ensuring that we have the right mechanism to invoke flexibilities. We emphasise this fact over and over again, and essentially also to ensure that the right balance is struck between private and public interests as maybe the case when it comes to patents. So from that perspective, I would like to thank delegations for the positive constructive interventions that we heard in this regard.
The Council took note of the statements made.
68.   The Chair noted that the item had been put on the agenda at the request of South Africa. A communication on this topic had been circulated in document IP/C/W/659. It included questions to guide the discussion. He invited South Africa to introduce the item.
69.   The representatives of South Africa; India; the European Union; China; Chinese Taipei; Brazil; Switzerland; Japan; the United States of America; and the WHO took the floor.
70.   The Council took note of the statements made.
IP/C/M/93, IP/C/M/93/Add.1