WHO, WIPO, WTO join forces to address access to medicines


22 July 2010

A symposium held by the World Health Organization (WHO), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) on 16 July 2010 has kicked off a closer, factual look at a range of issues affecting how poorer populations can obtain the medicines they need.


(The following article was published on the WTO website on 22 July 2010)

This followed a day-long technical symposium on "Access to Medicines: Pricing and Procurement Practices" at the WTO, which heard international agencies describe their experiences and the amount of information that is now available to them.

The three organizations feel they are now well placed to continue to work together closely to harvest information about access to medicines and to support well-informed policymaking on this pressing question.

They are encouraged by an improved flow of data and the more effective use of diverse sources of information, which allow cooperation to be designed better and policy debates to be grounded more firmly in practical experience.

The heads of the three organizations underscored their determination to continue to join forces to bolster the information available and their cooperation, in order to pursue shared policy goals on public health, intellectual property and trade.

They said the strengthened dialogue between their organizations and others involved in the issues would improve understanding and lead to better policies on public health and intellectual property.

"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts - within our distinct mandates, we can each bring our own areas of expertise and work towards stronger, more broadly based and effective outcomes," WTO director-general Pascal Lamy told participants.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan welcomed "this opportunity to collaborate with WTO and WIPO as we jointly consider policies for drug procurement, pricing, and intellectual property from a public health perspective. Access to medicines is an appropriate, and a challenging, focus for our joint efforts, which I know will be continuing."

WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry agreed: "As Thomas More recognized several centuries ago in Utopia, ‘without health everything else in life is without value' and so access to medicines which maintain or restore health - it's not surprising this is a question that excites a great deal of policy attention," he said.

He added: "Any new medicines will come from innovation. So we need to find a way of encouraging innovation."

Strategies for procuring reliable and affordable supplies of medicines are important in determining how easy or difficult it is for patients in poorer countries to receive the treatments they need. The symposium's emphasis was on data and real-life experiences as a means of understanding the situation.

As one speaker put it, the meeting was designed to meet "an appetite to focus on the empirical rather than the theoretical."

to read more visit: http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news10_e/trip_16jul10_e.htm



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