PIJIP, UNDP and OSI Facilitate Meeting of Eastern European and Central Asian Government Officials and Civil Society Representatives to Address IP and Access to Medicines

September 23, 2009

Participants issue resolution urging stakeholders to address the dangers that intellectual property provisions in trade agreements will limit access to essential health products


Contact: Sean Flynn, Associate Director
Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property
202-274-4157, or sflynn@wcl.americn.edu
Franki Fitterer; Director of Public Relations
202-274-4279; ffitterer@wcl.american.edu
American University Washington College of Law

Kiev, Ukraine:  The UN Development Program, the Open Society Institute, and American University’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) convened a meeting of approximately 50 government officials and civil society representatives in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.  Participants were drawn from nations undertaking or seriously considering Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with western nations, or acceding to the World Trade Organization (WTO).  Academics and health campaigners described flexibilities permitted under the WTO’s intellectual property rules can be utilized to increase access to affordable generics.  However, they warned that intellectual property provisions in past trade agreements and WTO accession terms have limited access to essential medicines. 

At the meeting’s conclusion, the participants issued a resolution calling on governments, legislators, civil society, aid organizations, universities and research organizations to recognize that trade agreements can raise prices and block access to medicines, and to take steps in the future protect access to medicines from overreaching trade policy. 

The resolution is available as a PDF at http://wcl.american.edu/pijip/go/resolution09222009.

PIJIP, the UN Development Program, and the Open Society Institute work together to provide technical assistance to advocates and governments to promote access to affordable medicines through intellectual property flexibilities permitted by the World Trade Organization agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS). Previous work has included the teaching of short courses on IP, Human Rights and Access to Medicines to LLM students and practitioners at the Universities of Pretoria and Kwazulu Natal in South Africa and to parliamentarians from fourteen Southern African Countries with the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum.

The Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) at the Washington College of Law promotes public interest approaches to domestic and international intellectual property law through advocacy, events and the provision of legal and consulting services.  PIJIP’s activities focus on a balanced approach to intellectual property and other legal regimes that reward creators while ensuring broad public access to information and its products. For more information on PIJIP’s Access to Medicines Legal Training Initiative, see  http://wcl.american.edu/pijip/go/humanrights


Kiev Resolution on Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines

September 22, 2009
Kiev, Ukraine    

The following resolution was adopted today in Kiev, Ukraine, by about 50 participants at a joint civil society-government training on intellectual \property and access to medicines in Eastern Europe and Central Asia:

  1. Having engaged in a Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Workshop on Access to Essential Medicines, HIV and Intellectual Property, 21-22 September 2009, Kyiv, Ukraine, sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme and the Open Society Institute and attended by representatives of governmental agencies and ministries of health, economy and trade, justice, intellectual property offices, civil society and experts from Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and Tajikistan, as well as international organizations and experts,

  2. Alarmed by the low levels of access to antiretroviral therapy and other needed treatments in the region and the rising costs of such needed medicines, and concerned about ensuring the sustainability of current treatment programs;

  3. Concerned by the regional trend toward expanding intellectual property and registration “data exclusivity” monopolies and their potential to significantly raise prices of and reduce access to needed medicines, including by interrupting existing supplies of medicines;

  4. We recommend that governments, legislators, civil society, multilateral and bilateral assistance and aid organizations, academic and research organizations consider the following actions:
A) Recognize that bilateral and multilateral trade agreement commitments on intellectual property and pharmaceutical test data exclusivity pose a serious and imminent threat to raise prices and reduce access to medicines, diagnostics and devices in the region if the full range of mechanisms to prevent excessive pricing are not used and the best practices and experiences from other countries of the world are not studied and adopted;
B) In the process of negotiation and implementation of any bilateral or multilateral trade agreements involving commitments on intellectual property rights or pharmaceutical test data exclusivity, each country should study the impact of such agreements and establish and provide for the regular work of a Public Health and Intellectual Property National Advisory Council composed of representatives of all affected ministries (including health, justice, intellectual property, economics and trade), civil society organizations, academic and research organizations and local and international experts to advise government and make recommendations on how to protect and expand policies that promote access to quality medicines, diagnostics and devices;
C) Work with the United Nations Development Programme, the World Health Organization and other relevant international organizations, donors and experts to support the establishment and technical capacity of Public Health and Intellectual Property Advisory Councils, including by sharing information on models of such structures from other countries and by providing regional and national technical assistance workshops on how to negotiate and draft rules that protect, implement and expand flexibilities in international trade, patent and registration laws that further access to quality medicines, diagnostics and devices.