If the World Health Organization (WHO) has its way, diagnostic and drug firms in the world's most prosperous nations will develop and manufacture more products to diagnose and treat medical conditions in the world's poorer countries.
WHO issued a statement May 27 on key decisions made at its 59th World Health Assembly (WHA). In particular, WHO wants to remove access barriers to diagnostics and drug treatments for "neglected diseases" and "neglected people" in developing nations. The organization also seeks to align international trade policies more closely with the health policies of its member nations.
The initiatives are based on recommendations made in a report published in April by WHO's Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health.
When intellectual property (IP) rights are enforced for products that poorer countries cannot afford, they can hinder the availability of needed treatments to those countries, the commission said.
Developed nations such as the U.S., UK and Japan have a self-sustaining "innovation cycle" that generates incentives for R&D, the report says. These include a large market for healthcare products that is supported by public and private demand, the protection of IP that allows companies to profit from innovation by establishing patents for their products, and the support of an "upstream" public sector-funded research effort by universities and research organizations.
But in low-income countries without those "positive conditions," the justification for patent protections as an incentive to innovate is essentially meaningless, the report suggests. ()a href="http://www.fdanews.com/ddl/33_23/" target=_blank>