Socio-economic development

Recent Trends in the WHO’s Essential Medicines List

While the number of patented medicines on the EML has increased in recent editions, the portion of the list currently under patent remains a small portion of all drugs on the EML, currently about 10%. A deeper dive into the data shows that many drugs are only patented in a fraction of lower income countries. Thus, 80% of lower income countries have 50 or fewer active patent filings on that ten percent. Moreover, many of these patented drugs are subject to institutionalized programs to provide access at lower cost. This paper provides an update to previous efforts to understand the nature of the EML, while expanding previous information thanks in part to the existence of new freely accessible online databases showing patent status and participation in programs to provide access.

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E-commerce Story Pitch Contest

In this online pitch competition, three e-commerce companies from developing and least developed countries will pitch their story and will be asked a series of questions, with online participants deciding who wins.

In their pitch, finalists will have to provide practical e-commerce insights, actionable tips and innovative approaches. The aim is to share specific learnings, get inspired, and learn useful tips and tools to boost online sales. The winning e-commerce entrepreneur will receive a prize package worth 1,000 USD for digital marketing services.

The three companies are MYANiture from Myanmar, Booksie from Ghana, and Nanjala from Kenya.

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Collaboration to enhance availability of COVID-19 therapeutics

As of November 2020, at least 44 manufacturing and production deals for COVID-19 therapeutics around the globe were made public. A number of these deals were intended to expand access to therapeutics to low and middle-income countries. In relation to all of them, licensing, enabled by a well well-functioning intellectual property system, has been a key enabler.

  • Eli Lilly and Company and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as part of the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, have entered into an agreement to facilitate access to future Lilly therapeutic antibodies under development for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, to benefit low- and middle-income countries. Lilly’s collaborators have agreed to waive their royalties on the Lilly therapeutic antibodies distributed in low- and middle-income countries as part of this initiative.
  • Gilead has entered into voluntary licensing agreements with nine generics manufacturers to further expand supply of remdesivir to 127 countries that represent nearly all low-income and lower-middle income countries. Gilead has completed technology transfers with these companies, and they are beginning the manufacturing process.
  • Merck, IAVI, and Serum Institute of India are collaborating to develop a neutralizing monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19. If successful, Merck will lead commercialization in developed countries and the Serum Institute will lead global manufacturing as well as commercialization in low- and middle-low-income countries, including India.
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WIPO Re:Search

By catalyzing a broad range of innovative collaborations, WIPO Re:Search supports early-stage research and development (R&D) in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), malaria, and tuberculosis.  Harnessing the power of public-private partnerships, it helps make IP available to scientists who need it. Moreover, through WIPO Re:Search, scientists from a range of countries have had the chance to participate in scientific exchanges and training abroad. This was an unanticipated benefit from the initiative. Innovation Council member Novartis was a founding member of WIPO Re:Search.

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WIPO’s Inventor Assistance Program

The Inventor Assistance Program (IAP) – a WIPO initiative in cooperation with the World Economic Forum – is the first global program to match developing country inventors and small businesses with limited financial means with patent attorneys. These experts provide pro bono legal assistance to help inventors secure patent protection. Participating countries are Colombia, Ecuador, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa. Innovation Council members Novartis and Qualcomm are on the advisory board of the IAP, and were instrumental in its establishment.

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Analysis of patent prosecution in China

This paper by Gaetan de Rassenfosse looks for traces of discrimination against foreigners in the patent prosecution process, building on earlier work. It focuses on the case of China, looking in particular at patent applications declared as essential to a technological standard, so called standard-essential patents (SEPs). It finds there is discrimination in the treatment of such patent applications, which are less likely to be granted and/or to take longer to grant.

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WTO report on COVID-19

The WTO Secretariat published this new information note warning of possible increases to trade costs due to COVID-19 disruptions. The note examines the pandemic’s impact on key components of trade costs, particularly those relating to travel and transport, trade policy, uncertainty, and identifies areas where higher costs may persist even after the pandemic is contained.

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“Progress and Potential: 2020 update on U.S. women inventor-patentees

This report updates the USPTO’s 2019 report on U.S. women inventor-patentees, “Progress and Potential,” using three years of new data, covering 2017 through 2019. It provides new information on women’s participation in the U.S. patent system, finding, among other things, that women make up an increasing share of all new entrants to the patent system, rising from about 5% of new inventor-patentees in 1980 to 17.3% by 2019. Innovation Council supports efforts to collect data on participation by minorities in IP systems. Data collection is the first step towards policymaking to support better access for minorities, including but not only women, to IP tools they can use to grow their businesses.

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The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator

The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is a global collaboration to accelerate the development and production of, and access to, COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CEPI, FIND, Gavi, The Global Fund, Unitaid, Wellcome, the WHO, and the World Bank are working together to advance the development and distribution of the tests, treatments, and vaccines the world needs to reduce mortality and severe disease. Innovation Council members and partners contributed to the establishment of this initiative and continue to support its work.

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