Tuesday, 26 January 2010

WHO's strategy good news for Africa but what about IP?

"The World Health Organization (WHO) is considering a plan to ask governments to impose a global consumer tax on such things as Internet activity or everyday financial transactions like paying bills online. Such a scheme could raise "tens of billions of dollars" on behalf of the United Nations' public health arm from a broad base of consumers, which would then be used to transfer drug-making research, development and manufacturing capabilities, among other things, to the developing world (sounds like good news for Africa). The multibillion-dollar "indirect consumer tax" is only one of a "suite of proposals" for financing the rapid transformation of the global medical industry that will go before WHO's 34-member supervisory Executive Board at its biannual meeting in Geneva." (Foxnews

"In May 2003 [WHO] established an independent, time-limited body, the Commission on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property Rights, to collect data and proposals from the people and institutions involved and present an analysis of intellectual property rights, innovation and public health, including appropriate funding and incentive mechanisms for the creation of new medicines and other products against diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries. The Commission concluded that intellectual property rights provide important incentives for the development of new medicines and medical technologies. Those rights are not, however, an effective incentive when patients are either too few or poor. As a result, there is a gap in the innovation cycle: in some cases no product exists to address the health needs of the poor, and, in other cases, products exist, but little effort is made to ensure that they are affordable for poor communities. Other incentives, financial mechanisms and coordination among stakeholders are needed."

Published a few days ago is the full Report of the Expert Working Group set up by WHO as a consequence of the Commission's conclusions to develop proposals for new and innovative sources of financing, to stimulate research and development. Some of the controversy over its publication (including an apparent neglect over IP rights) is revealed by Foxnews here.

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