[health-vn] TWN Press statement: Fair access to influenza treatments
vern.weitzel at gmail.com
Fri May 8 02:20:16 EST 2009
Subject: PHA-Exch> TWN Press statement: Fair access to influenza treatments
Date: Thu, 7 May 2009 22:33:11 +0700
From: Claudio Schuftan <cschuftan at phmovement.org>
To: pha-exchange at phm.kabissa.org
References: <49FEEF08.4020400 at gmail.com>
From: *Riaz K Tayob* riaz.tayob at gmail.com <mailto:riaz.tayob at gmail.com>
PRESS STATEMENT: THIRD WORLD NETWORK
URGENT NEED TO ENSURE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES HAVE FAIR ACCESS TO INFLUENZA
ANTI-VIRALS AND VACCINES
The current outbreak of swine flu (H1N1) outbreak has again highlighted
concerns that people in developing countries will have little or inadequate
access to much needed influenza vaccines or anti-viral treatments. Thus,
there is an urgent need for establishing a global system of fair and
equitable system for the sharing of the flu vaccines as well as anti-viral
treatments on the basis of need, wherein people in affected developing
countries have access. The current discussion in the WHO on the sharing of
viruses and the sharing of benefits needs to conclude with the developing
countries ensured that they will have access to affordable anti-virals and
vaccines and the appropriate technology to make such products.
Last week the World Health Organisation alerted the international community
to the possibility of a full-scale pandemic, as it raised its pandemic alert
for the swine flu to stage 5. As of 3 May 2009, 17 countries have officially
reported 787 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection.
The swine flu outbreak is a stark reminder that if a deadly pandemic were to
develop, there will be a desperate fight over limited supplies of anti-viral
treatments and vaccines, in which the developing countries will be at a vast
Today more than 90% of the global capacity for vaccine manufacturing is
located in Europe and in North America. Developed countries through
³advance purchase agreements² with manufacturers have already reserved a
good portion of the limited current manufacturing capacity. Thus in the
event of a pandemic, the world would be several billion doses short of the
If there is a worldwide pandemic of a new deadly influenza billions of doses
of anti-viral treatments and vaccines will be required in the developing
world and manufacturers will only be able to supply a small portion of what
is needed. The anti-virals and vaccines sold to developing countries are
also likely to be expensive, making them unaffordable for those in need.
Similarly the latest technology and know-how needed to produce the necessary
vaccines or anti-viral treatments are with manufacturers in developed
countries, and often protected by patents and trade secrets, and thus
inaccessible to manufacturers in developing countries.
The swine flu outbreak once again highlights the importance of the pandemic
influenza virus and benefit sharing negotiations taking place in the World
Health Organisation. While it began with the case of the deadly avian flu,
the negotiations are equally relevant to the present swine flu outbreak.
For the past 2 years developing countries led by Indonesia, Thailand, India,
Nigeria, Brazil have been fighting for reforms in the WHO influenza system
to ensure that developing countries (many of which contribute their viruses
for research and for manufacturing vaccines) are assured of access to
technology and know-how to build capacity in preparation of a pandemic as
well as affordable and timely treatments when pandemics break out.
However there has been fierce resistance from developed countries
particularly the US, EU and Japan, that would like to ensure that no
obligations are placed on their manufacturers to share their technology and
know-how, or treatments that developing countries need.
For developing countries to prepare for, or combat, a pandemic there needs
to be international solidarity, a call made ALSO by the Director General of
WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan.
This international solidarity needs to be realized in the upcoming
negotiations on influenza virus and benefit sharing that resumes on 15 May
in Geneva. There needs to be serious consideration of what a fair and
equitable system for benefit sharing should be and measures that will need
to be put in place to overcome patent and other intellectual property
Developing countries have proposed several measures on benefit sharing
---Obligating manufacturers that receive virus samples to contribute to a
WHO stockpile and to provide developing countries with vaccines and
anti-virals needed at a reasonable costs;
----Providing technology and know-how licences to allow manufacturing in
developing countries; and
----Obligating manufacturers to contribute a portion of their profits to a
fund which could be used for purchasing the needed vaccines or anti-virals
as well as building manufacturing and other relevant capacity in developing
countries. ----Ensuring that patents and IPRs do not block access to
and anti-virals as well as the technology to produce such products.
On measures to overcome patent and other intellectual property rights
barriers there are proposals that recipients of virus samples should not
claim patents over the samples or parts thereof. For any products produced
using the virus samples that are patented royalty free licenses have been
proposed to enable manufacturing in developing countries.
Without a system of fair and equitable benefit-sharing in place and measures
to overcome the intellectual property barriers, developing countries are
likely to be left without affordable vaccines or treatments since the
companies making them are located in developed countries which would want to
ensure the scarce supplies are given to their own people first.
The best solution is to help developing countries build their own capacity
to manufacture the vaccines and other treatments that are needed, so that
enough can be available for all that require them when there is an outbreak.
This is an urgent matter as millions of lives are at stake.
For further information please contact:
Third World Network,
Tel (Mobile): +41 (0) 78 757 2331
Email: sangeeta at thirdworldnetwork.net
<mailto:sangeeta at thirdworldnetwork.net>
 <#_ftnref1> See WHO¹s Questions and answers related to vaccines for the
new influenza A(H1N1), available at
 <#_ftnref2> The 2006 WHO Global Pandemic Influenza Action Plan to
increase vaccine supply estimates that if manufacturers optimize current
output, the production capacity for potential influenza vaccine would be 500
million doses (inactivated trivalent vaccine).
More information about the health-vn