231. Norway attaches great importance to tackling global health challenges, including providing access to affordable medicines for all. There are various and complex reasons behind the problem that many people around the world, especially in least developed and low-income countries, do not have access to the medicines and vaccines they need. This access depends, among other factors, on regulatory frameworks, prices, procurement systems, systems for distribution of medicines to the clinics, and the presence of qualified health personnel. This complexity requires a balanced discussion.
232. The UNSG’s High-Level Panel Report focuses mainly on intellectual property rights, which is only one of several elements that influence the prices of medicines and vaccines. Moreover, it seems to us that the Report does not give a fully representative picture regarding the role of patents and related intellectual property rights in providing access to medicines. The Report seems to focus too narrowly on negative aspects. However, the system is also contributing to bringing new medicines to the market.
233. A narrow focus on negative aspects of the system is not conducive. We need in our view to take a broader perspective – which includes other important elements that influence access to medicines, and I mentioned some of them at the beginning of my intervention. Norway supports several international initiatives which work to improve these challenges – for instance: UNITAID, Medicines Patent Pool, and WAMBO.org within The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
234. As for the continued discussion on the interface between IPRs and health here in the WTO, it is Norway’s opinion that it would be more fruitful to take as point of departure the joint study by the WTO, the WHO and WIPO from 2013: Promoting Access to Medical Technologies and Innovation: Intersections between public health, intellectual property and trade.