News Release: Signers of “Patient Declaration” for WHO talks financially tied to Big Pharma

Signers of “Patient Declaration” for WHO talks financially tied to Big Pharma

April 28, 2008

Sarah Rimmington, (Geneva) (+41)(0)76-269-2246, [email protected]
Robert Weissman, (Washington, DC) (+1) 202-387-8030, [email protected]

GENEVA – Most signers of a “Patient Declaration” being circulated in the context of the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) talks on R&D for the developing world are financially tied to Big Pharma. That according to a report issued today by Essential Action.

Essential Action’s report, “Patients, Patents and the Pharmaceutical Industry,” shows that the organization circulating the declaration, Patients and Patents, is run by individuals financially entangled with the brand-name pharmaceutical industry. The report also shows that most signers of the “Patient Declaration on Medical Innovation and Access,” which is being circulated by Patients and Patents, are tied to the industry.

The Essential Action report is available here.

“There clearly is a crucial role for patient and public health organizations in the WHO debates over R&D for the developing world,” says Essential Action director Robert Weissman. “But groups that are dependent on Big Pharma, or tied to the industry, should not present themselves as independent voices in the debate.”

“Patients’ interests lie in the twin goals of the WHO Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (IGWG) — to advance innovation and access. Patents are only one, flawed means to advance innovation, and patent monopolies pose serious access barriers. Patient groups should be embracing the IGWG effort to explore different mechanisms to achieve both innovation and access — as indeed many independent patient organizations from around the world are.”

The “Patient Declaration on Medical Innovation and Access” insists on the importance of patient group involvement in IGWG or other WHO processes before “recommending changes to international patent protection (IPP).” The final negotiating session of IGWG commenced this morning in Geneva. The declaration can be found here.

Patients and Patents is governed by a seven-member advisory board. Essential Action’s report documents that six of the seven members of the advisory board are linked to the brand-name pharmaceutical industry, either directly as an individual or through their primary organization, and the seventh member has at least a weak tie to the industry.

The report also finds that 61 of 110 of the signers of the Declaration (as of April 24) have industry ties. The report details those ties. Based on its methodology, the report’s information undoubtedly undercounts and underreports the industry ties of the signers of the declaration.

The Washington, D.C.-based Essential Action is a nonprofit project that focuses on public health and corporate accountability. Essential Action’s work on pharmaceutical issues is funded by the Open Society Institute and the Ford Foundation.