WHO favours access to safe, quality drugs

WHO favours access to safe, quality drugs

New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday passed a resolution to ensure access to safe, efficacious, quality and affordable medicines at its 62nd regional committee of the south east Asia region.

The region comprises 11 countries—India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, North Korea, the Maldives and East Timor.

“The resolution rejects the counterfeit agenda propagated by developed countries and pharmaceutical multinationals. It takes note of the fact that there is an attempt to conflate IP (intellectual property) enforcement issues with trade and substandard drugs and also recognizes the need to separate IP issues from the availability of safe, efficacious and quality medical products," a person who attended the meeting in Kathmandu said on condition of anonymity.

The resolution also urges member states to ensure incorporation of public health safeguards, included those mandated by the Doha declaration on the agreement on trade-related intellectual property rights and public health in their IP legislation—an attempt India has made through provisions in its patents law.

It also asks the WHO regional director not to support any IP policy that undermine access to medicines.

“This is clearly a signal of rejecting the IP enforcement agenda advocated by International Medical Product Anti-Counterfeit Task-force (IMPACT), for which WHO is acting as the secretariat," the person said. India, along with Brazil and Thailand, strongly opposed IMPACT at the World Health Assembly in January and succeeded in taking it off the WHO’s agenda.