Statement by David Ruiz, Senior Policy Advisor
Stop AIDS Alliance
Stop Aids Now, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and STOPAIDS UK applaud the NGO Report.
The UNAIDS Strategy highlights the importance of supporting country capacities in implementing TRIPS flexibilities. In 2011 the Political Declaration agreed at the high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on AIDS stated that trade barriers and intellectual property should not stand in the way of HIV treatment access. The high-level meeting was unequivocal: where trade barriers exist they should be removed.
Three years after the high-level meeting and 13 years after the Doha Declaration, trade barriers to drug access have not decreased. On the contrary, they have been dangerously strengthened, particularly through a combination of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, restrictive patent laws in certain countries, and a lack of competition in some areas of the production of medicines and medical products. Today, the gains that the global AIDS movement took for granted after 2001 are under serious threat.
Access to generic medicines has been critical: Between June 2000 and 2011, first-line ARV prices decreased from $10,439 per patient per year (PPY) to $347/PPY. Voluntary licensing has helped to improve access in many countries, particularly if negotiated from a public health perspective such as those of the Medicines Patent Pool. However, several other countries have been unable to benefit. Strategies like tiered pricing do not result in the sustainable improvements in access created through generic competition facilitated by the use of TRIPS flexibilities. A review of over 7,000 developing country transactions between 2002 and 2007 found that the tiered prices for 15 out of 18 ARV drugs were 23–498% higher than the generic price.
There are proven solutions to guarantee universal access to drugs. These solutions focus on generic competition and TRIPS flexibilities. Within TRIPS, compulsory license mechanisms, patent oppositions and patent law reforms have all shown their power to enable generic competition, drive prices down and enable access. These are legal mechanisms recognized by all countries, and which should be championed by all countries.
The NGO report addresses the main barriers to achieving 90% treatment coverage by 2020, increasing access to high quality and affordable treatment, and proposes concrete long term solutions to achieve it. Through this statement we call upon UNAIDS and member states for its strong voice and leadership for coordinated and structured work around IP issues across the UNAIDS family; to follow up the recommendations from the Global Commission on HIV and the Law that request the UNSG to convene a high level panel to propose alternatives to the existing IP system. We also call for further collaboration between the Joint Programme and WTO, as recommended by the NGO delegation.