A newly agreed draft text of the United Nations political declaration on tuberculosis was released to governments today, affirming the use of flexibilities in international trade rules on intellectual property, but excluding actionable language on those rules.
At issue is the political declaration to be approved by leaders at the 26 September UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on the Fight to End Tuberculosis. A key sticking point has been references to the 1994 World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
The new text reflects a compromise in the recent negotiations over the TB declaration. While it continues to exclude any mention of TRIPS flexibilities in the operative, actionable paragraphs of the text, it does strengthen the language on TRIPS in the preamble, “affirming” the use of TRIPS flexibilities, rather than simply “recalling” them.
Important changes in the preamble also include replacing language naming only intellectual property rights as an important incentive in the development of new TB drugs. The new text instead broadly names “the need for appropriate incentives in the development of new health products.”
In the operative paragraphs, “needs driven” was added to “evidence-based” as a priority for the research and development of new TB drugs, perhaps reflecting the need for more drugs to treat neglected diseases, that are often overlooked by profit-driven R&D.
The previous version of the text [pdf] did include reference to “delinkage,” supporting “existing voluntary initiatives and incentive mechanisms that separate the cost of investment in research and development from the price and volume of sales.” The new text takes this a step further, stating that this should “facilitate equitable and affordable access to new tools and other results to be gained through research and development.”
While these changes bolster the focus of the text on access to medicines and affirm the use of intellectual property flexibilities, the new text does not include these flexibilities as actionable strategies. Instead, the text focuses on multi-stakeholder partnerships and investment, along with new incentive mechanisms for research and development, to provide this affordable access to new TB drugs.
The paragraphs containing the new compromise language of the TB declaration, acquired by Intellectual Property Watch, were released today (September 5) and are included here. Underlined sections indicate the changes to the document.
By David Branigan