Statement from Médecins Sans Frontièreson the occasion of the Civil Society Dialogue meeting hosted by Mr. Lamy on the outcome of Doha.

December 14, 2001.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) considers the declaration adopted in Doha on TRIPs and public health as an important step in the right direction.

Based on a clear recognition of the potentially negative side-effects of the TRIPS agreement, it gives primacy to public health and gives teeth to the measures that countries can use to counteract them. After Doha, the TRIPS Agreement is a bit less about private property and a bit more about public interest.

The Doha declaration gives a clear roadmap to certain measures, including the right to grant compulsory licenses (overriding patents) and the freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licenses are granted.

The Doha declaration acknowledges that these options are not limited to emergency situations. If countries do declare an emergency, they can issue compulsory licenses without prior negotiation with the patent owner. Countries themselves determine what constitutes an emergency situation.

The declaration also leaves countries the freedom to decide on their own rules for implementing parallel imports which allows a country to shop around for the best price of a branded drug on the global market. In addition, least developed countries (LDCs) have been given a 10 year extra extension to provide pharmaceutical patents - this means that the deadline for compliance is now 2016 for LDCs, at the earliest.

It was disappointing that the meeting failed to resolve the issue of production for export to countries with insufficient or no manufacturing capacity for pharmaceuticals. MSF welcomes Mr Lamy's announcement that proposals to resolve this issue will be presented in the TRIPS Council early 2002.

Besides this crucial issue, intense work will still be needed on several other trade related aspects of access to medicines.

First, the declaration now needs to be put into practice. What are the concrete actions the Commission plans to have in order to insure that the declaration will have an impact at country level?

Second, very little progress has been made towards the establishment of a global tiered pricing system. We would be interested to hear which steps the Commission plans to take to establish such a system and what the timetable is.

Third, our focus needs now to be directed to the Research and Development aspects of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) debate. IPRs are not an effective incentive for R&D directed to answer health needs of Developing Countries. Other mechanisms need to be found to guarantee that investments are made in Research and Development to find cures for the diseases of the poor.

In conclusion, MSF does believe that the declaration is an important step, but several others still need to be made. We wish to express our commitment to continue to work with the Commission to improve access to essential medicines.

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