Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry
12 September 2002
PATENTS ARE ESSENTIAL IN FIGHT AGAINST WORLD DISEASE, ABPI SAYS IN RESPONSE TO CIPR REPORT
Patents are essential if new medicines are to be developed to fight disease in both the developed and developing world, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said today in its response to the report by the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights.
The ABPI is pleased to note the report's recognition that IP protection is important for the promotion of invention and, in particular, of the role of patents in the research and development of new medicines. It also welcomes the Commission's comments on the value of the current TRIPS agreement with its existing flexibility.
But it is concerned that the Commission is proposing compulsory licensing of medicines and an extension of parallel trade as a component of the resolution of the difficulty of access to medicines in the developing world.
"It is clearly a thoughtful report and one that we shall need to consider in depth," said Dr Trevor Jones, Director General of the ABPI. "It is important that the report recognises that there are many factors other than IPR that affect people's access to healthcare in poorer countries, and that the really important constraints are lack of resources to improve services, delivery mechanisms, and infrastructure to distribute and administer medicines safely."
The report also gives recognition to the fact that differential pricing mechanisms between the developed world and the developing world are of value.
"The pharmaceutical industry, over many years, has used differential pricing throughout the developing world," said Dr Jones. "The prices of medicines in, for example, the USA, Britain, Germany and France are significantly different from the same products sold to public health systems in countries such as Malawi, Uganda, Bangladesh and India.
"We believe that for the Least Developed Countries - and for the whole of sub-Saharan Africa - that access to medicines for malaria and TB, and anti-retroviral medicines for the treatment of HIV/AIDS through differential pricing, combined with adequate funding for infrastructure of health delivery is a positive way forward."
The ABPI strongly endorses the report's acknowledgement that, when such schemes are introduced, safeguards must be put in place to ensure that these products are not re-imported to the developed world.
"One aspect that the report seems to have overlooked," said Dr Jones, "is the potential of public/private partnerships between the industry and national governments to find solutions to the delivery of healthcare to the developing world within the context that international IPR makes feasible.
"The pharmaceutical industry is well aware of the tragedy caused by poor healthcare provision in the developing world, and is involved in many schemes to tackle the problem - for example, the involvement of the industry in the not-for-profit Medicines for Malaria Venture to discover and develop new medicines for those who need them at affordable prices while respecting IPR rights.
"This essential work can only continue against a background of secure patent protection - a system that brings benefits to the whole of humanity."
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