Wednesday 27 February 2013
Dogs and Cats Living Together? The New WIPO, WTO and WHO Book.
On February 5, 2013, WIPO, the WTO, and the World Health Organization issued a jointly authored book titled, “Promoting Access to Medical Technologies and Innovation – Intersections between public health, intellectual property and trade.” The 253 page book is an ambitious one—tackling the intersection of innovation and access. The press release states:
Today’s health policy‑makers need a clear understanding both of the innovation processes that lead to new technologies and of the ways in which these technologies are disseminated in health systems. This study captures a broad range of experience and data in dealing with the interplay between intellectual property, trade rules and the dynamics of access to, and innovation in, medical technologies.
The study is intended to inform ongoing technical cooperation activities undertaken by the three organizations and to support policy discussions. Based on many years of field experience in technical cooperation, the study has been prepared to serve the needs of policy‑makers who seek a comprehensive presentation of the full range of issues, as well as lawmakers, government officials, delegates to international organizations, non‑governmental organizations and researchers.
The book has four parts: 1) Medical Technologies: The Fundamentals; 2) The Policy Context for Action for Innovation and Access; 3) Medical Technologies: The Innovation Dimension; and 4) Medical Technologies: The Access Dimension. The study is very complete and attempts to tie together a lot of different concepts, and generally does so well (although I know I need to spend more time with it). Some interesting items in the report include: a statement that a goal of the report is to find some “policy coherence” between the three organizations and that the report was made in a spirit of cooperation began by the Doha Declaration, the WIPO Development Agenda, and the WHO Global Strategy and Plan of Action for Global Health; a specific section on traditional medicine and knowledge; a statement that “[t]he overarching condition for providing access to needed medical technologies and health services is a functioning national healthcare system”; a dizzying chart concerning Tanzania’s medical supply systems; placing the human right to health within the intellectual property law context; and a helpful table breaking down pharmaceutical related provisions in FTAs.
On the Bayh-Dole Act and similar policies, the report states:
Such policies, and a general trend towards more active management of technologies created through publicly funded research, are leading to the steady accumulation of publicly held patent portfolios, including on key upstream technologies that provide platforms for a range of new medical technologies.
This report appears to be a great step toward harmonizing a lot of concepts in public health and intellectual property. There is no question that trying to find solutions to the problems outlined in the report requires expertise in a lot of different areas and much collaboration.