MSF have recently pointed out a few basics regarding IP, pharmaceutical research and developing nations access to essential medicines. Karsten Gerloff has a nice summary (see original for links):
"Medicins sans Frontieres (MSF) warned of one-sided discussion of patents and other intellectual monopoly powers at the G8 summit, taking place in Germany this week.
Tido von Schön-Angerer, MSF’s director of the campaign for “Access to Essential Medicines”, said that the expansion of patent protection in developing countries had not led to more innovation in pharmaceutical research. These countries, he says, are still lacking access to affordable drugs to fight malaria, HIV/Aids and tuberculosis.
Mr Schön-Angerer said that while patents as an instrument were indispensable, they were not in themselves a sufficient way to promote innovation. He pointed to a special group at the WHO which is looking into alternavtive ways of providing incentives for pharmaceutical research (IP-Watch has more info here).
MSF is concerned that when the topic of patent protection for pharmaceuticals comes up, politicians often point to counterfeit medicines. The group’s spokesman condemned such conterfeiting as a criminal and dangerous activity, but pointed out that forged drugs do not actually endanger innovation, the protection of which the G8 leaders are currently highlighting as a key issue.
According to MSF, the G8 countries are planning talks with several emerging countries, in particular India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and China (termed “Outreach-5), in which they are going to emphasise the value of strict “protection” of intellectual monopolies.
Yet, said MSF, these countries are world leaders in the manufacturing of affordable generic medicines. The organisation is worried that they are going to be subjected to increasing pressure not to use the maneuvering space that TRIPS and other international agreements allow them on issues such as compulsory licences for drugs.
MSF emphasised that while there was usually a public outcry when a developing country issued a compulsory licence for producing an urgently-needed medicine, countries such as the US and Italy routinely used such instruments themselves.