TAC to participate in and picket outside United Nations hearings in Johannesburg

On Thursday the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) together with partners Cape Mental Health, Advocates for Breast Cancer, People Living with Cancer, and SECTION27 will picket outside hearings held by the United Nations Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines (details below).

We will urge the High Level Panel to place the public interest and the right to health ahead of the private interests of pharmaceutical companies. The High Level Panel is tasked with considering and exploring solutions to the “policy incoherence between the justifiable rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules and public health in the context of health technologies”

We will also highlight the fact that South Africa has failed to implement crucial World Trade Organisation-sanctioned public health safeguards into our national laws. South Africa published a promising Draft National Intellectual Property Policy in September 2013. This policy process has however since stalled and South Africa’s laws and regulations regarding patents remain heavily skewed in favour of pharmaceutical companies.

The Johannesburg hearings follow on hearings held last week in London (see video from those hearings here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kz3sh907wLE&feature=youtu.be).

Thursday’s hearings in Johannesburg will be livestreamed here. http://www.unsgaccessmeds.org/johannesburglivestream The hearings will be facilitated by Andrew Jack of the Financial Times.

Amongst others, the 16 members of the High Level Panel include former Botswana President Festus Mogae, GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty, Australian jurist Hon. Michael Kirby and Director General of the Department of Health in South Africa Malebona Precious Matsoso (see the full list here) http://www.unsgaccessmeds.org/new-page/.

Prior to the hearings, industry, academia, governments, and civil society were invited to make submissions to the High Level Panel. A list of 176 submissions made to the High Level Panel has been published here http://www.unsgaccessmeds.org/list-of-contribution/.

TAC made the following three submissions to the High Level Panel:

1.     A call on all developing countries to fully utilise all the safeguards available in the TRIPS agreement as clarified in the Doha Declaration to ensure public health is protected http://www.unsgaccessmeds.org/inbox/2016/2/28/lotti-rutter (Submission endorsed by AIDS Access Foundation, Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, FTA Watch, Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+), ITPC-South Asia and  SECTION27)

2.      A proposal for linking intellectual property rights on pharmaceutical products to research mandates http://www.unsgaccessmeds.org/inbox/2016/2/27/marcus-low(Submission endorsed by Knowledge Ecology International and SECTION27)

3.     A call on the HLP to acknowledge the impact of trade pressure (through mechanisms like the United States 301 Watch List) on the use of TRIPS flexibilities and for the United Nations to do more to support developing countries in utilising TRIPS flexibilities https://highlevelpaneldevelopment.squarespace.com/inbox/2016/2/29/lotti-rutter   

TAC also endorsed the following five submissions:

4.     Amy Kapczyynski of the Yale Global Health Partnership on the right to health and access to medicines http://www.unsgaccessmeds.org/inbox/2016/2/28/amy-kapczynski

5.     James Love of Knowledge Ecology International on United Nations support for Global R&D agreements http://www.unsgaccessmeds.org/inbox/2016/2/29/james-love

6.     James Love of Knowledge Ecology International on measures that can be taken to increase the transparency of markets for medical products https://highlevelpaneldevelopment.squarespace.com/inbox/2016/2/29/james-lovec

7.     Professor Brook Baker of Health Global access project on radical reform of global and national intellectual property norms on medical technologies for all health needshttp://www.unsgaccessmeds.org/inbox/2016/2/26/z73kpodxk4jw96mhqe2tivq0sd1g3v

8.     Professor Brook Baker of Health Global access project on a compulsory licensing facility/consortium http://www.unsgaccessmeds.org/inbox/2016/2/27/brook-baker


WHAT: Picket at the High-Level Panel meetings

WHEN: Thursday 17th March, 10h30 – 12h00

WHERE: Holiday Inn, 123 Rivonia Rd, Sandton, 2148

For more information and to arrange interviews contact:

Lotti Rutter // 081 818 8493 // lotti.rutter@tac.org.za

Mary-Jane Matsolo // 079 802 2686 // mary-jane@tac.org.za

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