WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents: Twenty-second session
Speaker: Yuanqiong Hu
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) would like to first express our regret that there was no agreement on the future work programme in the last Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP), and would anticipate substantive progress to be made before this Committee, especially on the issues of patents and public health, including the proposal submitted by the African Group on public health and patents.
MSF would like to remind the Committee that 2014 and 2015 have witnessed a number of increased public health challenges at a global scale facing many Member States of this Committee. A number of examples are worth highlighting. For instance, the Ebola crisis last year further demonstrated the failure of the patent-centric innovation system in biopharmaceutical sectors. To offer another example, the increasing epidemic of hepatitis C has become a challenge to both developed and developing countries, while the medicines are priced out of reach of many. In addition, the newly revised World Health Organization (WHO) Model List of Essential Medicines has included new medicines treating hepatitis C, cancer and drug-resistant TB. All of these new medicines remain under heavy patent thickets and would present concerns for many Member States in this Committee in getting access.
Therefore, as a general statement, MSF calls on this Committee and the Member States to keep connecting patent discussion with social reality; to not discuss normative issues in isolation from prominent social impacts such as those related to health; and to recognize the increasing public health challenges facing many Member States of the Committee and to make concrete progress on the proposal of public health and patents. In addition, MSF hopes this Committee can mainstream public health considerations in other substantive discussions. For instance, in the discussion of inventive steps, national provisions on inventiveness that have proven to promote public health should be discussed, such as Section 3(d) of India’s Patent Act.
Finally, MSF also hopes the Committee can continue working on the issue of mandatory disclosure of International Nonproprietary Names (INN), which was not concluded in the last session. MSF believes that disclosure of INN remains crucial for public health agencies and non-governmental organizations to effectively monitor public health-sensitive patents at an early stage. We also feel that the requirement of INN disclosure would help to direct more rational filing behaviours of the applicants and help to prevent abuse of the patent system.