The announcement by the French government to prioritize global health research and development is an important step toward making sure life-saving drugs and medical tools are developed and delivered to the people who need them most. We call on additional governments to set up similar financial transaction taxes and to follow the French government’s move to dedicate a portion of the revenue to respond to neglected health needs. Every day in our work, we witness firsthand the failures of today’s health research and development system that does not deliver adequately for people in developing countries.
Sophie Delaunay, Executive Director, MSF-USA, in response to the French government’s announcement that a portion of the financial transaction tax they have decided to implement will be dedicated to global health research and development.
The announcement was made by Fabienne Bartoli, Social Development Counselor at the French Mission to the United Nations at the MSF/Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative conference on R&D for neglected populations in New York, December 13, 2012.
Indonesia has shown that countries can and should take action to enable the production of low-cost versions of essential life-saving medicines for their citizens.
Michelle Childs, Director of Policy Advocacy for the MSF Access Campaign.
On 3 September, the Government of Indonesia issued a ‘government use’ decree - a type of compulsory licence that lifts a patent restriction on generic production - on seven drugs used to treat HIV and Hepatitis B. The drugs which are subject to the orders include efavirenz, abacavir, tenofovir, lopinavir/ritonavir, didanosine, and fixed-dose combinations tenofovir/emtricitabine and tenofovir/emtricitabine/efavirenz.
The Presidential decree, if implemented fully, will allow for local generic production of the medicines - which will open up competition, and could significantly reduce prices - while each of the innovator companies will be paid a royalty of half a percent. There are 310,000 people living with HIV in Indonesia.
"Indonesia has set an important precedent, not just for the people living with HIV within its country, who have been campaigning for this, but also for other developing countries", said Ms. Childs. "This is one of the widest licences issued by a government and rightly reflects the reality that a range of treatment options are needed."
"As medicines for HIV and Hepatitis B are increasingly under patent in developing counties, Indonesia has shown that countries can and should take action to enable the production of low-cost versions of essential life-saving medicines for their citizens. The next step is full implementation of the decree. Other countries faced with blocks on access to generic medicines should consider following Indonesia’s lead", Ms. Childs added.
It’s a myth that every patent application that is filed is valid. When you look closely, a patent application may fail one or more of the legal tests it needs to pass. The idea behind this database is to help civil society and patient groups stop unwarranted patents from blocking people’s access to more affordable medicines.
This decision once again affirms that courts can and should act in the interest of public health in the case of pharmaceutical products.