PCB39: Statement of Knowledge Ecology International on Agenda item 6: UNAIDS synthesis report on IP

On Wednesday, 7 December 2016 Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) delivered the following statement at the 39th session of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) during discussions of agenda item 6 entitled, “Synthesis report of existing research and literature on intellectual property-related and other factors impacting the availability, affordability, and accessibility of treatment and diagnostics for HIV and co-infections in low and middle-income countries.”

KEI statement to UNAIDS – PCB 39 – 7 December 2016

Thank you Chair.

We welcome the Joint Programme’s synthesis report.

We endorse the call contained in paragraph 108 of the report urging UNAIDS to:

explore the recommendations made by the report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines, and apply them, where appropriate, to the global AIDS response to ensure improved policy coherence across the Joint Programme, in order to support countries to achieve the health-related Sustainable Development Goals, especially those pertaining to access to health technologies and innovation;

The UN HLP recommended the embrace of new ways to pay for innovation and increase access to health technologies. The most important recommendation from the UN HLP is its endorsement of the concept of delinkage – the decoupling of the costs of R&D from the price of health technologies. Societies cannot rely upon high drug prices to finance R&D without harming patients and creating unequal access. As noted by the Secretary-General, “no one should suffer because they cannot afford medicines, diagnostics, medical devices or vaccines.”

Policy coherence means making innovation and access happen at the same time. Delinkage is key to policy coherence. In order to truly realize the right to health, it is imperative that delinkage becomes part of the DNA of UN discussions to remedy the policy incoherence between public health, trade and human rights.

In terms of charting a course forward for UNAIDS, we recommend the following:

  1. UNAIDS should convene regular regional meetings to initiate efforts to implement progressive delinkage mechanisms to replace monopolies as a reward for innovation;
  2. UNAIDS should invite its co-sponsors and interested stakeholders to these meetings, including member states, civil society organizations and representatives from international bodies (WIPO, WTO and South Centre);
  3. As noted by paragraph 75 (b) of the synthesis report, the HLP called for “much greater transparency”; thus, UNAIDS should ensure further transparency on the costs of R&D, pricing and patent status of HIV related products by strengthening the WHO Global Price Report Mechanism;
  4. UNAIDS should provide technical support to governments to remove trade barriers to access HIV-related products — including the use of TRIPS flexibilities, such as, compulsory licensing, enforcing stricter patentability criteria and patent oppositions; and
  5. UNAIDS should advocate for a global agreement on R&D.