> Workshop programme
Geneva, this three-day WTO Workshop on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health
was part of the WTO technical cooperation and capacity-building activities —
“TRIPS” is “trade-related intellectual property rights”, the name used for
the WTO’s intellectual property agreement.
Like earlier workshops held in Geneva since 2005, this capacity-building
activity aimed to ensure that the participants have the information
necessary so that their countries can make use of the TRIPS Agreement’s
flexibilities for public health purposes.
Among other subjects, the workshop looked at the additional flexibility
agreed by members in August 2003 and
December 2005 to allow generic
versions of patented medicines to be made under compulsory licence for
export to countries that cannot manufacture the medicines themselves,
sometimes called the “paragraph 6 system”.
Similar regional workshops have also been held for African countries in
Mauritius in June 2006, for the Asia Pacific region in Macao in July 2007
and for Latin American and Caribbean countries in 2008. In addition, the
TRIPS public health flexibilities figure prominently in other WTO national
and regional technical cooperation events.
The scene for the workshop was set by an
introductory session on the interface between intellectual property rights
and public health, which was jointly given by the WTO, the World Health
Organization (WHO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Subsequent presentations by WTO officials provided an introduction to the
key elements of the TRIPS Agreement and related WTO instruments, in
particular the provisions of direct relevance to public health, the Doha
Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, and the paragraph 6
system. To complete the picture, representatives from some WTO Member
governments discussed TRIPS flexibilities and reported on the implementing
legislation in place allowing for exports under the paragraph 6 system.
Practical exercises enabled participants to apply the acquired knowledge to
With a view to putting the issue of TRIPS and public health in the context
of a wider action to address problems related to public health, a number of
other speakers shared their experiences and views regarding certain key
issues of direct relevance to public health. Among the issues covered were,
in particular, the management of intellectual property rights as applied to
concrete health-related projects, questions related to the regulatory
approval, quality control and effectiveness of medicines, as well as to
competition and procurement. The list of invited speakers included
representatives of the research and development (R&D) and generic
industries, Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Frontiers), the Global
Fund, the Medicines for Malaria Venture and the African Network for Drugs
and Diagnostics Innovation.
The participants came from: Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cap Verde,
China, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Kyrgyz
Republic, Lesotho, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, Panama, Papua New Guinea,
Peru, Philippines, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine and Viet Nam.
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