A group of public interest organizations have come out strongly against the proposed draft resolution on counterfeit medical products by IMPACT and urged India to reject it as the current process by WHO has bypassed all norms of international negotiations.
"The draft resolution proposed by the WHO secretariat endorses the work of IMPACT and ensures its continuation for at least another three years. This is not acceptable. The funding and functioning of IMPACT has heavily involved agencies that have a clear conflict of interest and that have long been associated with hampering the supply of safe, effective and affordable generic drugs to patients around the world. India must call on the WHO to reject IMPACT and institute an open and transparent process in identifying and tackling public health priorities," a joint statement by them said.
The organizations included National Working Group on Patent Laws, All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN), Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), All India People's Science Network, Initiative for Health Equity and Society, Healthwatch Forum, Drug Action Forum- Karnataka (DAF-K), Centre for Health and Social Justice (CHSJ), and Centre for Trade & Development (Centad).
Involve experts, civil society and governments from developing countries in identifying the issues, the negotiations and the development of draft texts of any resolution. All pharmaceutical associations and institutions with IP enforcement agendas should be prohibited from funding and participating in the negotiations and in policy making, the statement said.
"The WHO must reject any and all attempts at bringing in a TRIPS-plus enforcement agenda whether through IMPACT, ACTA or national legislations. While the substance of the suggestions made by IMPACT over the past two years is a great cause for concern, even more worrying is the manner in which this group without any sanction from the World Health Assembly has effectively substituted the democratic body of nations in making international policy. It is essential that India reject the working of this group and call on the WHO to immediately distance itself from IMPACT and institute a transparent and democratic process to confront real public health concerns," the organisations said.
By confusing the issues of counterfeit medicines with concerns regarding spurious and mislabeled medicines, IMPACT is following the wrong approach. IMPACT's focus on policy and legislation on counterfeit drugs will be counter productive and will create barriers to trade in and access to legitimate medicines. The second area of concern is a document proposed by IMPACT titled, 'Principles and Elements for National Legislation against Counterfeit Medical Products'. This document proposes a harsh criminalization and enforcement regime and compares counterfeiting with drug trafficking.
The problem with this is that allegations of counterfeiting may actually relate to drugs that are safe, legitimate and registered but on which there may be grievances of trademark infringement, according to the statement.