Alternative Incentives for Health and Pharma

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Excerpt from a WHO-dependent, excerpted by Stefan Merten, which explicitely states that Intellectual Property Rights are an insufficient incentive for the development of health policies and pharmaceuticals in the developing world.

According to Stefan Merten of Oekonux, paragraph "3.7 is the most interesting one. It is an active furthering of Open Access by an institution reporting to the WHO"

CIPIH Report Excerpts

CIPIH is at

FAQ at

The report at

By the "Commission on Intellectual Property Rights,Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH)

From the FAQ_:

6. What does the report say?

Intellectual property rights are a general incentive provided by governments to promote innovation in all fields. In respect of public health, they are embedded in a set of other incentives which influence the pattern of innovation. They need to be looked at as part of a bigger picture.

In particular, because the market demand for diagnostics, vaccines and medicines needed to address health problems mainly affecting developing countries is small and uncertain, the incentive effect of intellectual property rights may be limited or non-existent.

Because intellectual property rights may not be an effective incentive in this area, there is a need for other incentives and financial mechanisms to be put in place and for collaborative efforts between different stakeholders.

Without access to the products of innovation, there can be no public health benefits. Defining the conditions by which products can be accessed is therefore an important aspect of the report.

There has been significant progress in recent years, in particular initiatives taken by different stakeholders to promote innovation in health-care products e.g. increased funding by foundations and the formation of public-private partnerships for product development.

This momentum for change is welcome but is insufficient.

More needs to be done. There are unsettled and debated issues in intellectual property for example the effectiveness of the recent amendment to TRIPS in increasing access to medicines in countries without manufacturing capacity, the impact of data exclusivity laws and the impact of intellectual property provisions in bilateral trade agreements.

And there is a need to ensure enhanced financing on a sustainable basis of innovation and access and promote synergy between the different partners.

Ultimately it is a responsibility that governments must accept if these objectives are to be achieved.

It is appropriate that WHO should now take the lead in promoting a more sustainable and better-funded effort and addressing unresolved issues.

WHO should accordingly develop a Global Plan of Action to secure enhanced and sustainable funding for developing and making accessible products to address diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries.

The report_ contains policy suggestions. There are a few which are particularly interesting in our context (page numbers refer to the English version):


Public research institutions and universities in developed countries should seriously consider initiatives designed to ensure that access to R&D outputs relevant to the health concerns of developing countries and to products derived therefrom, are facilitated through appropriate licensing policies and practices. (p. 198)


Practical initiatives that would motivate more scientists to contribute to this field through "open source" methods should be supported. (p. 200)


The Doha Declaration clarifies the right of governments to use compulsory licensing as a means of resolving tensions that may arise between public health and intellectual property, and to determine the grounds for using it. Developing countries should provide in their legislation for the use of compulsory licensing provisions, consistent with the TRIPS agreement, as one means to facilitate access to cheaper medicines through import or local production. (p. 202)


Developed countries, and other countries, with manufacturing and export capacity should take the necessary legislative steps to allow compulsory licensing for export consistent with the TRIPS agreement. (p. 202)

More Information

See our entries on Access to Health and the Open Access Movement