Thousands of people living with AIDS in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are going without treatment while the production line at a modern antiretroviral (ARV) factory in the east of the country lies largely idle. Pharmakina has produced generic ARVs since April 2005 in the eastern province of Bukavu, the first pharmaceutical firm to do so in central Africa, but it is now forced to await approval from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Health equity in economic and trade policies
In this report, the author found that proprietary rights on “influenza genetic sequences and the proteins they encode, used in vaccines,” get in the way of developing countries’ access to medicines. The study shows a sharp rise in patent applications in this area since 2006, shortly after the outbreak of H5N1 in late 2005. The study lists a series of examples of patent applications, such as Baxter International, for the production of influenza vaccines, published in July 2010. This patent application includes animal and human H5N1 types from China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Turkey, and Singapore. According to the author, developing countries “collect and share influenza viruses with WHO’s Global Influenza Surveillance Network with the understanding that those viruses are to be used for public health.” However, proprietary claims can prevent access to technology and products produced with a given technology, he said.
Food animals are considered as key reservoirs of antibiotic-resistant (ABR) bacteria with the use of antibiotics in the food production industry having contributed to the global challenge. There are no geographic boundaries to impede the worldwide spread of ABR, and limitations in the interventions in one country could compromise the efficacy and endanger containment policies implemented in other parts of the world. Multifaceted, comprehensive, and integrated measures complying with the One Health approach are argued to be imperative to ensure food safety and security, effectively combat infectious diseases, curb the emergence and spread of ABR, and preserve the efficacy of antibiotics for future generations. Countries are urged to follow the World Health Organisation, World Organisation for Animal Health, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations recommendations to implement national action plans encompassing human, (food) animal, and environmental sectors to improve policies, interventions and activities that address the prevention and containment of ABR from farm-to-fork. This review covers (i) the origin of antibiotic resistance, (ii) pathways by which bacteria spread to humans from farm-to-fork, (iii) differences in levels of antibiotic resistance between developed and developing countries, and (iv) prevention and containment measures of antibiotic resistance in the food chain.
Food animals are considered as key reservoirs of antibiotic-resistant bacteria with the use of antibiotics in the food production industry having contributed to the actual global challenge of antibiotic resistance (ABR). There are no geographic boundaries to impede the worldwide spread of ABR. If preventive and containment measures are not applied locally, nationally and regionally, the limited interventions in one country, continent and for instance, in the developing world, could compromise the efficacy and endanger ABR containment policies implemented in other parts of the world, the best-managed high-resource countries included. Multifaceted, comprehensive, and integrated measures complying with the One Health approach are thus imperative to ensure food safety and security, effectively combat infectious diseases, curb the emergence and spread of ABR, and preserve the efficacy of antibiotics for future generations. The World Health Organisation, World Organisation for Animal Health, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation recommend implementing national action plans encompassing human, (food) animal, and environmental sectors to improve policies, interventions and activities that address the prevention and containment of ABR from farm-to-fork. This review covers (i) the origin of antibiotic resistance, (ii) pathways by which bacteria spread to humans from farm-to-fork, (iii) differences in levels of antibiotic resistance between developed and developing countries, and (iv) prevention and containment measures of antibiotic resistance in the food chain.
Developing nations, led by Brazil and India, continue to press strong concern over seizures of legitimate shipments of generic pharmaceuticals destined for poor patients in the developing world. Brazilian Ambassador to the WTO, Roberto Azevêdo, told reporters that flexibilities developing countries have under WTO rules on intellectual property rights may be ‘jeopardised’ and that the possibility of a dispute settlement case was not ruled out. He said that as many as a dozen developing countries made statements in support of the concerns, and two of those countries spoke on behalf of the African Group and the Least Developed Countries group, each of which have dozens of members. However, the European Union denies any conflict with WTO rules in its efforts to catch shipments of counterfeits.
The international debate around patents has been largely framed in terms of ‘protection for’ versus ‘access to’ intellectual property (IP), according to this article. If the framing of the debate shifts to a focus on research and development, this is likely to strengthen the leverage of developing countries to change the dynamics of IP negotiations in trade agreements, the authors argue. In fact, shifting the entire debate from IP rights to the research and development (R&D) gap may help tackle the fundamental problem of a monopoly-based innovation and access system. One example is nonexclusive licensing practices, such as those used by the not-for-profit Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative. The initiative finances R&D up front and offers the outcome of its research on a nonexclusive basis to generic producers, allowing for technology transfer and competition among multiple producers. Furthermore, universities currently hold important patents on many life-saving drugs, which prompted Universities Allied for Essential Medicines to propose that when a university licenses a promising new drug candidate to a pharmaceutical company, it should require that the company allow the drug to be made available in low income countries at the lowest possible cost. Another alternative to overcoming current patent barriers is the use of patent pools, as proposed by the World Health Organization, Médecins Sans Frontières, and UNITAID. Here, a number of patents held by different entities, such as companies, universities, or research institutes, are pooled and made available to others for production or further development. The patent holders receive royalties that are paid by those who use the patents. The pool manages the licences, the negotiations with patent holders, and the receipt and payment of royalties, in a manner that facilitates access to medicines in low income countries. The author proposes that other innovative policy proposals, such as the Heath Impact Fund (a strategy to create a publicly funded ‘pot of gold’ that would attract the private sector to create R&D innovations that effectively address priority global heath needs), be implemented. However the author argues that using patents as the financial incentive to encourage the pharmaceutical industry to develop drugs for the world's poor is of limited use, given that the market is nonexistent as neither governments nor patients can afford the end product.
The article describes international campaigns that are trying to defend the access of poor people in the world to pharmaceuticals. Both campaigns are calling for the rules of a World Trade Organization agreement called Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property to be upheld. The pharmaceutical company Novartis is bringing the government of India to court for not granting a patent to the company for the cancer drug imatinib mesylate. India only grants patents for medicines that are new and innovative. The Government Pharmaceutical Organization of Thailand wishes to make a generic version of the drug efavirenz. The US government and the pharmaceutical company Merck believe that the Thai government should have asked Merck's permission first before developing the drug.
Recent government actions by Indonesia and India to issue compulsory licenses will enable access to cheaper medicines in Asia to treat serious ailments, especially HIV and AIDS, cancer and hepatitis B. The supply of generic medicines, either through import or local production, has been the major method of reducing prices and making medicines affordable. In 2003, Malaysia became the first developing country to issue a compulsory license to a local firm to import medicines from India to treat HIV and AIDS, with Indonesia, Thailand and India following suit. In September 2012, Indonesia issued compulsory licenses to enable local manufacturers to make, import and sell generic versions of seven patented drugs used for treating HIV, AIDS and hepatitis B. The author suggests that countries in Africa follow this precedent.
This petition was prepared in time for the annual meeting of the IMF-World Bank, 19-20 September in Singapore. The Tribunal received a petition from peoples’ organisations, citizens groups, social movements and NGOs from various countries in Asia seeking justice for the impact of debt on the lives, livelihood and well-being, human rights of the peoples of Asia, on the environment, ecological systems, economies and political affairs of many countries in the region. The same petition charges the IMF, World Bank (WB) and ADB of responsibility for the intensification of poverty and deprivation, violation of basic human rights, in addtion to other faults. By so doing, signataries hope that they will be compelled to review their actions and calculate and quantify the damages wrought by their policies or people.
From the 1960s to the present, many African integration groupings have emerged and faded away. Within the various integration groupings, the development of trade has been a major objective pursued through programmes aimed at achieving a free trade area, a customs union and a common market. But outcomes of decades of experimentation with integration in Africa have on balance remained modest. For instance, African trade statistics continue to paint a generally modest picture of trade between regional economic communities (RECs), as well as intra- African trade. The countries generally lack a strong industrial capacity to produce diversified manufactured goods for trade within regional markets. Many of the multiple national currencies in Africa lack convertibility and efforts towards monetary, financial and physical integration have not been very promising. The cost of doing business in the continent is generally high, due in part to infrastructure gaps, duplicative border procedures and cumbersome paper requirements. Paperless trade still remains a distant objective. The free movement of people and the right of establishment have progressed in some RECs, but remain a paper objective in many other African subregions.