Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Clarification on WIPO discussions on the WHO R&D resolution

Wednesday, 22 February 2006
Thiru Balasubramaniam

On the first day of the WIPO PCDA, the Chilean Ambassador noted current discussions on an a2k treaty and the WHO resolution on a global framework on essential health research and development as examples of complementary systems to and in intellectual property.

In my intervention on behalf the the Civil Society Coalition yesterday, I highlighted

recent events at the World Health Organization's Executive Board which recently submitted to the World Health Assembly, the highest decision-making body of the WHO, a draft resolution on a "Global Framework on Essential Health Research and Development". The resolution provides a process to consider a new global regime that is consistent with human rights and public health priorities. The proposed resolution recognizes the importance and relevance of public sector and open source methods of supporting and doing R&D, and the need to have appropriate balance between the public domain and intellectual property rights.

Dr. Eric Noehrenberg, Director, of International Trade and Market Policy at the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) responded in his intervention in the following manner,

As a point of clarification regarding the WHO resolution mentioned by a previous NGO speaker, it should be noted that the resolution in question was NOT submitted by consensus to the World Health Assembly, contrary to normal procedure. Indeed, only Kenya and Brazil signed onto this resolution and several delegations expressed strong concerns about the usefulness of this exercies. The models of an "R&D treaty" or "guidelines" submitted to WHO are unworkable, ineffective, and bureaucratic.

It should be noted that the actual text of the WHO decision (EB117.R13) of 27 January states the following,

[t]he Executive Board, [h]aving considered current developments regarding access to medicines and the need to develop urgently new medicines and other health care technologies; [s]ubmits to the Fifty-ninth World Health Assembly for its consideration the following draft resolution.

Nowhere in this decision does it state that the resolution was "NOT submitted by consensus to the World Health Assembly, contrary to normal procedure" nor does it state that only "Kenya and Brazil" forwarded this draft resolution to the World Health Assembly. On the contrary, the WHO Executive Board submitted this proposal to the World Health Assembly by conensus, bracketing language where divergences occurred.