September 14, 2016

U.S. Chamber Condemns UN Report Attacking Patents

High-Level Panel recommendations ignore decades of data and input of key countries 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) Executive Vice President Mark Elliot issued the following statement in response to recommendations issued by the United Nations High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines:

“The UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines has issued a report that was never intended to address the true barriers of access to medicines; it was designed to drive a narrow and extreme agenda. The Panel’s predetermined conclusions ignored decades of data and the input of key countries in asserting that intellectual property is the problem with access to medicines.

“In doing so, the Panel ignored the real culprits that stand between patients and care: excessive tariffs and taxes on imported medicines, and weak healthcare infrastructures that hinder the effective distribution of medicines. And the UN’s own data shows that intellectual property does not restrict access to medicines: 95 percent of essential medicines are no longer under patent.

“The irony is that by singling-out patents, this report has attacked the innovative systems that have actually produced thousands of cures and saved millions of lives. Decades of research have shown that the private sector is responsible for as much as 97 percent of drug development. If adopted, these recommendations could prohibit the creation of future breakthrough treatments.”

The Panel called on governments to: drastically restrict patentability of medical innovations; make liberal use of compulsory licenses to override patents; minimize the private sector role in the research and development of new cures; and, put the United Nations itself above national governments in oversight of intellectual property rights.

The Panel’s report surfaced one day after U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Michelle Lee testified at a U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee hearing, reaffirming “serious concerns” with its “narrow focus and the biased mandate.” In February, the Chamber joined the U.S. Government and other countries and organizations in objecting to the Panel’s “fundamentally flawed” premise that there is a “misalignment between the rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules and public health.”

A report recently released by the Hudson Institute examined key assumptions made by the Panel and found that “the intellectual property system has encouraged innovation that has saved millions of lives by providing the poor with access to lifesaving therapies.” The report pointed to numerous signs of progress, including: the 53 percent decrease in infant mortality rate since 1990; the more than 75 percent increase in children’s access to medicine over the past 45 years; and the increase in the number of people with HIV receiving Antiretroviral treatments – by more than 15 million in the last 15 years.

The U.S. Chamber’s International IP Index suggests that economies with the strongest IP protections are 60 percent more likely to provide environments conducive to biotech innovation. And economies with specific protections for the life sciences field see an average of 13 times more biomedical investment than those lacking IP protections.

The Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center is working around the world to champion intellectual property (IP) rights as vital to creating jobs, saving lives, advancing global economic growth, and generating breakthrough solutions to global challenges.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.


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