The Unitaid NGO Delegation attended the 43rd UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (11-13 December 2018) in Geneva with the intention of delivering a statement on Agenda Item 7 – Update on the access components of the UNAIDS 2016-2021 Strategy: removing access barriers to health technologies for HIV and its co-infections. Unfortunately, due to a delayed agenda, we were unable to deliver our intervention. It reads as follows:
We, the NGO Delegation to Unitaid, welcome the necessary discussion on intellectual property and access to medicines here at the PCB. Truly sustainable AIDS results, and indeed, results on co-infections, cannot occur without TRIPS flexibilities. It is well known that Unitaid is one of the few global health agencies that invest in intellectual property measures for access to health, but this is not enough. It is imperative that other global health agencies invest in IP. As the tides are changing in the medicines pricing debate in the U.S., including the introduction of a bill on Competitive Licensing by 66 U.S. senators, global health agencies should no longer fear intimidation on intellectual property and access to medicines. TRIPS flexibilities are legal measures.
In the past week, the Unitaid Board has approved a new Area for Intervention on long acting technologies, which includes the accelerated development and access of injectable cabotegravir for PrEP. These technologies have multiple layers of patents, and we ask that governments and global health agencies alike examine these and include TRIPS flexibilities within their considered interventions for when these emerge, particularly for middle-income countries which will be exempt from any voluntary licences.
We cannot leave investment in intellectual property work solely within the purview of one global health agency.