The workshop would discuss efforts to increase the access to affordable medicines and the interests of protecting Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) of drug formulas. "The purpose of this workshop is to consider the relationship between IPR and access to medicines. This event is being conducted in cooperation between Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia and South Center, which is an intergovernmental organization located in Geneva, Switzerland," Executive Director of South Center, Carlos M. Correa, said here Wednesday.
South Center is an intergovernmental think-tank of developing countries with currently 54 developing country member states from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean.
The main issue discussed at the workshop was the effort to ensure access to medicines at affordable prices as against patent protection that affects the price of medicines.
"The case is that there is patent protection which creates a sort of legal monopoly in determining medicine prices. The patent may lead to high prices denying people the access to medicines at affordable prices," Correa remarked.
Therefore, the workshop aims to find ways to utilize international and domestic law in any way to ensure that people have access to medicines as part of basic human rights, he added.
"This workshop also aims to look at the coherence of policies on the national and regional level to ensure people have access to medication and medicines in particular," Correa stated.
Lack of access to medicines is one of the most complex and intriguing problems that stand in the way of better health services to all, Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Head of Policy Analysis and Development Agency, Siswo Pramono, said at the workshop.
"One of the challenges to access to medicines is the affordability of medicines for all. It is affected by the created policy stipulated by the agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights, which is known as TRIPs, and the global context of the pharmaceutical industry that is bound by the use of patents as an instrument of IPR protection," Pramono explained.
Therefore, the Government of Indonesia, in collaboration with South Center and representatives from ASEAN and Central Asia countries gathered at the workshop to review and assess international rules that can provide flexibility for the application of drug patents to ensure access to affordable medicines for all, which is also part of basic human rights.
The workshop brought together nearly 35 representatives from governments from Asia, including the ASEAN member states. Moreover, the resource persons of the workshop were from ministries or governmental agencies, academia, and organizations dealing with foreign affairs, public health, and intellectual property.
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