ASHM Report Back

Clinical posts from members and guests of the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) from various international medical and scientific conferences on HIV, AIDS, viral hepatitis, and sexual health.

Excessive Intellectual Property Protection for HIV Treatments - the Momentum for Reform

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Excessive intellectual property protections for HIV  treatments:  the momentum  for reform

What a clear and informative presentation  Charles Chauvel , Team leader, Inclusive Political  Processes, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, United Nations Development Programme, New York, USA delivered towards  the last end of Day One of the 2015Australasian  .HIV and AIDS conference

The ethics of patents has long troubled most health practitioners, and none more so, than those wanting  affordable  access to antiretrovirals  at  rates that will not deter people receiving,  needing or wanting HIV  treatment or prophylaxis.

Charles outlined that disease and poor health remain major barriers to sustainable development in  many countries. HIV and malaria and viral  hepatitis  continue to  kill  more that 5  million  people every  year and  most of the deaths occur in  low or middle income families. Even in rich countries, drugs like sofosbuvir are largely unaffordable to all the citizens. He also outlined that there are also non patent factors affecting access to medicines.

 Charles outlined that a patent is a type of intellectual property. It is a social contract between an inventor and society.  It gives the inventor the temporary and exclusive right to make use, export or market an invention in the country where the invention is patented.

 Patents affect access by creating protection on existing drugs, and the patents give exclusive control to  licence, manufacture and distribute the product. It also influences the kind of innovation which in undertaken in  the first  place.

 The Agreement on Trade – related Aspect of  Intellectual Property Rights was agreed to  in  1994 and came into  force in  1995. There was also another agreement setting minimum standards of IP protection and enforcement for countries to follow.

TRIPS Agreement Objectives (Article 7) states” The protection and enforcement of IPRs should contribute to the promotion  of technological innovation  and to  the transfer and dissemination of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to the balance of rights and obligations.”

TRIPS Agreement  Principle (Article 8) indicate “ Members ……(should) adopt  measures necessary to  protect public health  and  nutrition, and to  promote the public interest in sectors of vital  importance to  their socio- economic and technological development, ………”  But the rights of the inventor Should also be protected.

Furthermore, there is IP “creep” and practices and measures since the original  Agreement have consolidated the Agreement.

Charles outlined the high  costs of ARVs. He said second  generation  ARVs cost 3.4  times more than  first  generation drugs.  Third generation ARVs cost 23.4  more than  the first generation  ARVs. He indicated India make over 80% of ARVs and their legislation  has enshrined the TRIPS agreement.

It also  seems TRIPS may be  further broadened and the term of patent protection  extended and create barriers to  medicines registration by “linking” IP to  marketing requirements.

The  Human Rights Commission  called for reform  in  2009 . It said “  …. Take into account the right o f everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of  physical and mental health …..and supports public  health policies that  promote broad access to safe,  effective and affordable medicine.”

In  December,  2014, a resolution was put to the Secretary - General  of the UN calling for reform.  “We must continue to remedy the policy incoherence current in modes of international governance in matters of trade, finance and investment on one hand, and our norms and standards for labour, the environment, human rights and sustainability on  the other.”


For many people, changes to  TRIPS would be welcome and could not come too soon.

Charles Chauvel – thank you for your address and please keep up  your good work.



Darcy Smith

Tagged in: HIVAIDS2015
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