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Public Health: Innovation and Intellectual Property Rights: Report of the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: World Health Organization
Conference: Report of the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health
Location: Genva, Switzerland
Conf. Date: April
Date: 2006
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/8028
Sector: New Commons
Subject(s): public health
intellectual property rights
Abstract: "What value can we add to this debate from the perspective of public health? We thought it necessary to look at the bigger picture. Even if our mandate referred principally to intellectual property rights, we had to examine many other factors that contribute to the improvement of public health in developing countries. We placed this issue in a broader perspective, including for example regulation, and issues such as the importance of political commitment, in both developed and developing countries, in promoting access to new and existing products. We analysed the complexity of scientific challenges in biomedical innovation and sought reasons why, in spite of a greater effort, R&D has not yet produced the results hoped for, or even expected, for the people of developing countries. Intellectual property rights are important, but as a means not an end. How relevant they are in the promotion of the needed innovation depends on context and circumstance. We know they are considered a necessary incentive in developed countries where there is both a good technological and scientific infrastructure and a supporting market for new health-care products. But they can do little to stimulate innovation in the absence of a profitable market for the products of innovation, a situation which can clearly apply in the case of products principally for use in developing country markets. The effects of intellectual property rights on innovation may also differ at successive phases of the innovation cycle from basic research to a new pharmaceutical or vaccine. We considered the impact of TRIPS, the flexibilities in TRIPS confirmed by the Doha Declaration, and also the impact of bilateral and regional trade agreements as they might affect public health objectives. Whereas there is an innovation cycle in developed countries which broadly works to provide the health care required by their inhabitants, this is far from being the case in developing countries to meet the needs of their people, in particular poor people. Our task was to consider how this difference might be addressed. In successive phases of the innovation cycle from fundamental research to the discovery, development and delivery of new products the multiplicity of financial and other incentive mechanisms, and the scientific and institutional complexities of biomedical innovation have had to be considered. At each phase intellectual property rights may play a greater or lesser role in facilitating the innovation cycle. Other incentive and financing mechanisms to stimulate research and development of new products are equally necessary, along with complementary measures to promote access."

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