Brussels, 11 February 2002
An international organisation is to be set up later this year to assist governments and health researchers in the developing world to negotiate better deals for drug access, as well as helping researchers to protect their ideas.
The initiative, MIHR (Management of intellectual property in health R&D (research and development)), will be implemented by public health and intellectual property experts from two EU Member States, namely the Netherlands and the UK, as well as experts from Asia, Africa, South America and North America. MIHR will receive funding from the US Rockefeller Foundation.
The organisation will focus on two aspects contributing to the widening gap between developed and developing countries with respect to health technologies access: the fact that many new products are sold at prices beyond the reach of many developing countries and the tendency for products needed by richer countries to receive much more attention than those needed by poorer countries.
'We believe strongly in promoting respect for IP [intellectual property] and using creative IP management as a tool to help bring needed health products to the poor in developing countries. We also hope to be a force for rational discussion of the important issues surrounding IP in this rapidly changing world,' said Dr S Ramachandran, former secretary of the Indian government's department of biotechnology.
MIHR will initially focus on three areas of work: identification and codification of best practices for licensing to achieve the goals of the public sector; the provision of training to scientists, universities and research institutes in managing IP to benefit the public sector in both developed and developing countries; and consulting services to developing and developed country groups concerned with research and product development.
The initiative is expected to benefit R&D institutions in both developing countries and developed countries which need assistance in understanding the basics of IP transactions, and international R&D programmes requiring consultancy work.
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