Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Promoting Access to Medical Technologies and Innovation: Intersections Between Public Health, Intellectual Property and Trade

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Last week, the World Trade Organization together with World Intellectual Property Organization and World Health Organization published an e-book entitled “Promoting Access to Medical Technologies and Innovation: Intersection between public health, intellectual property and trade”.  The book can be found at the following link:

The book is designed to be a tool to policy makers and “seeks to reinforce the understanding of the interplay between the distinct policy domains of health, trade and intellectual property, and of how they affect medical innovation and access to medical technologies.”

The book is broken down into four sections.  The first of which provides an overview of the players (WTO, WIPO, and WHO) detailing their “distinct roles and mandates”, highlighting the need for a cooperation and policy coherence “in international action to address public health problems”.  The first chapter outlines “the evolution of the global burden of disease” and what its evolution means in terms of medical technologies.  It discusses the complex policy environment and what factors affect public health policy including financial, regulatory, trade, competition, and intellectual property considerations amongst others.

The second chapter, “The policy context for action on innovation and access” further highlights intellectual property and trade considerations together with the economic considerations and regulatory concerns.  The chapter provides an overview of the patent regimes, trademarks and data protection and highlights the pharmaceutical sectors “dependence on patents to capture returns to research and development” and potential consequences of its dependence.

The third chapter provides insight into medical technology innovation and includes a historical prospective and details the challenges faced today by the pharmaceutical industry.  As a patent agent, I found the section of this chapter entitled “Intellectual property rights in the innovation cycle” particularly interesting.

The final chapter discusses issues relating to access to medical technologies and highlights some of the factors that can impact access.

By: Claire Palmer