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[afro-nets] Avian Flu: WTO should review intellectual property rules

Avian Flu: WTO should review intellectual property rules
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from Third World Network <twnet@po.jaring.my>
http://www.twnside.org.sg


In view of a possible avian flu pandemic, Consumers Interna-
tional (CI) has called on the WTO's TRIPS Council to clarify the
30 August 2003 decision regarding the implementation of para-
graph 6 of the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.

The 30 August 2003 decision by the WTO General Council allows
generic copies of medicines made under compulsory licences to be
exported to countries that cannot produce, under certain condi-
tions.

All WTO member countries are eligible to import under this deci-
sion but 23 developed countries have said they will not use the
system for imports. These 23 countries which have opted out as
importers, plus another ten who had to opt out as a condition of
joining the EU, will result in hundreds of millions of people
who will not be able to obtain generic medicines for stockpiles,
as countries will not have the capacity to produce the medi-
cines.

The opt-out provision creates the likelihood that the costs of
producing stockpiled medicines will be high and this will reduce
the capacity to produce and result in lower levels of stockpiles
everywhere.

So far no country has notified the WTO that they intend to use
the 30 August 2003 decision as either an importer or an ex-
porter. With countries both in the North and South at risk of a
public health emergency should an avian flu pandemic occur, and
the fact that stockpiles of medicine are far under-sourced, 'the
lack of WTO notifications is damning evidence that the current
system is not working', says CI. 

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