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Symposium Tackles How to Know Whether a Medicine is Patented

24-Feb-2011 | Source : | Visits : 8021

GENEVA - Finding out whether a medicine, vaccine, diagnostic kit or other medical product is patented in various countries is a complex challenge for organizations trying to develop new products and to manufacture and supply them at affordable prices, a joint WHO-WIPO-WTO technical symposium heard on February 18, 2011.

According to the WTO, knowing whether a product is patented has implications for what procurement agencies, research institutions, industry and other stakeholders can do. Once they have determined how and where they are free to act (their “freedom to operate”), they can devise strategies for research and development of new medicines, and for improving access to these medicines in poorer countries, participants said.

And meanwhile, the financial crisis has increased pressure on public health, World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan said.

“Public health now finds itself caught in a cross-current of rising expectations and ambitions, set against rising demands and costs, at a time when funds are stagnant or shrinking. In such a situation, introducing greater efficiency is a far better option than cutting budgets and services,” she said.

“Today, health officials seeking to use their budgets efficiently, by procuring lower-cost generic products, must do so with a good understanding of patent status. This situation has created a critical need for capacity to manage and apply intellectual property in the developing world.”

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director-General Francis Gurry and WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said digital databases are making information on patents easier to obtain. WIPO’s searchable database PATENTSCOPE now has seven million documents, set to rise to 20m within 2011, Gurry added.

The technical symposium on “access to medicines, patent information and freedom to operate” was the second organized by the three organizations. The first was in July 2010.


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