By Donald Zuhn –-
In letter from three Colombian organizations to the Chairman of the World Health Organization (WHO) 2016 Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination (CEWG) (posted on the info.justice.org blog), the organizations informed the CEWG of efforts to secure a compulsory license for Imatinib, marketed by Novartis as Gleevec® or Glivec, and resistance to those efforts. The three Colombian organization signatories consisted of the IFARMA Foundation, Misión Salud, and CIMUN.
The organizations noted that since November 2014, the group had been encouraging the Ministry of Health (MOH) of Colombia to declare access to Imatinib to be of public interest with the goal of securing a compulsory license. While noting that the MOH had acknowledged that access to Imatinib is a matter of public interest, the groups also noted that efforts at securing a compulsory license had been met with resistance. The group pointed to "enormous pressure from developed countries, from Big Pharma and even from Colombian trade authorities trying to block the Public interest declaration and the Compulsory license," suggesting that the resistance "combines inaccuracies, distortions of international trade rules and even threats of trade claims under the dispute settlement mechanism."
The organizations state that "[w]e are conscious that efforts to reach the prevalence of health needs over commercial interests begin with the full use of TRIPS flexibilities," but add that "we feel that any efforts to move to a global system delinking monopoly prices from research and development investments could be perceived without sense when some countries impede the full use of TRIPS flexibilities with misleading arguments and methods." The group concludes the letter with the hope that by informing the CEWG of the situation, it "would help to encourage Colombian process" on declaring a compulsory license for Imatinib.