Posts Tagged: "World Trade Organization"

Plain confectionery packaging a heavy-handed response to health concerns

Legislating for tobacco-style plain packages for confectionery is a disproportionate response to the obesity crisis and strips companies of valuable trademarks, writes the Institute of Economic Affairs’ head of lifestyle economics.

‘Plain packaging’ is a policy which eliminates all branding and visual design elements on products and forces manufacturers to use state-mandated colors and typefaces to create homogenized packaging with no differentiating features. Plain packaging is currently only applied to tobacco products in a handful of countries worldwide, but if health activists have their way that will change.

UN Secretary General’s Panel on Access to Medicines Reports: Government Knows Best

Delayed for months beyond its expected issue date the Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Access to Medicine’s report emerged yesterday. Apparently the panelists scrambled to better disguise their predetermined agenda behind reams of soothing rhetoric. While lip service is given to the unimagined advances in medicine under the current industry led drug development system, that’s quickly discarded under the pretext of providing better access to health care for the world’s poorest citizens through a system run by international bureaucracy. These recommendations are largely directed at the US life science industry. Luckily, one panel member provides an effective rebuttal to this approach but unless his message is repeated many public officials, media outlets and the general public could come to accept that a government run system would be “more fair.”

Brand Owners Watch as Smoke Clears on Plain Packaging Efforts

The major premise of plain packaging is that when stripped of producers’ logos, brand images and promotional matter, tobacco products simply aren’t as attractive to consumers. Reduced focus on logos and images also increases the effectiveness of health warnings. Chan points to research from Australia, the first country to fully implement plain packaging, to show that by stripping tobacco products of gratuitous trademarks and other producer advertising elements, there were 100,000 fewer smokers over the first 34 months after implementation in 2012. Not all groups agree, however.

Compulsory Licenses Won’t Solve a Healthcare Crisis

Over the past two years, India has invalidated or otherwise attacked patents on 15 drugs produced by innovative pharmaceutical firms. While the claim is that this promotes lower prices and expanded access to medicines, in truth this is industrial policy not health policy. The clear beneficiaries are local generic manufacturers, not Indian patients. The majority of Indians do not need Nexavar, or any of the other patented drugs being considered for compulsory licenses. They need doctors, nurses, clinics, and hospitals. Put simply, a functioning healthcare infrastructure. Basic health statistics clearly illustrate the real problem, India currently accounts for one-third of the deaths of pregnant women and close to a quarter of all child deaths.[3] The battle for health in India will not be won with compulsory licenses. It will be won with investments of resources on the ground in local communities.

Protecting Innovation is not ‘Satanic Genocide’: Intellectual Property Policy in South Africa

South Africa currently faces a stark choice between protecting and incentivizing innovation and stymying life-saving therapeutic breakthroughs. Policymakers must choose between shoring up the protections that encourage the development of medicines that enhance and extend life, or sabotaging innovation through the weakening of the patent system. South Africa is purported to have the highest number of people living with HIV in the world, people who have the most to gain from breakthrough therapies. Innovative medicines have contributed to the 85 percent decline in the death rate from HIV/AIDS since 1995. The benefits of future medicines will become a reality only if these medicines are incentivized and developed. Strong, effective IP protection is essential to that process.