TWN Info Service on Health Issues (Mar20/05)
23 March 2020
Third World Network

Dear All,

Please find below news reports on the use of compulsory license (a flexibility of the WTO-TRIPS Agreement)  in three countries to address the patent barriers in the interest of public health. However, please note that as mentioned in the Israel news report, the use of lopinavir/ritonavir (branded as Kaletra) for the effective treatment of coronavirus is questionable.

Article 31 of the WTO-TRIPS Agreement allows for use of a patented subject matter without the authorization of the patent holder, including use by the government or third parties authorized by the government, subject to terms set out therein. According to this Article, in times of national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency or in cases of public non-commercial use, the issuance of compulsory licenses may be done in the absence of prior negotiations with the patent holder. For further information on issuance of compulsory license at the national level please see Article 31 of the TRIPS Agreement as well as its implementation in the national patent legislation.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require any information.


Sangeeta Shashikant
Third World Network


 Israel Defies AbbVie IP To Import Generic Drugs For COVID-19

By Dani Kass

Law360 (March 19, 2020, 3:52 PM EDT) Israel is allowing generic versions of AbbVie Inc.痴 HIV drug Kaletra to be imported to treat coronavirus patients, even though the drug is still patent protected in the country, according to Thursday media reports.

The country痴 attorney general is, for the first time, invoking a 1967 patent law that allows a generic version of a drug to be approved even if the branded version is still patent protected, according to reporting in Bloomberg Law. The generic drugs will not be given to HIV patients, said a Reuters report.

The Israel Ministry of Health has said the viral drug could be a possible treatment for patients with COVID-19 and granted a preliminary permit, according to media reports. But a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine testing the use of Kaletra in China cast doubt on the treatment, finding it ineffective.

The Justice Ministry said AbbVie and an importer aren稚 able to provide 鍍he necessary inventory of the branded drug, so they need to turn to alternatives, according to Reuters. The Israeli patents are good until 2024, but they致e expired in India and elsewhere, the news organization added.

Representatives for AbbVie and Israel痴 Justice Ministry didn稚 immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

The health ministry said Thursday that 573 Israelis have tested positive for COVID-19, according to news reports.

AbbVie brought in $245 million in worldwide Kaletra sales last year, according to the company痴 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

胞diting by Gemma Horowitz.


Chilean Chamber of Deputies approves resolution for compulsory licenses for patents relating to the coronavirus virus
March 17, 2020 by Luis Gil Abinader

Today, with an overwhelming 127 votes in favor and 0 votes against, the Chilean Chamber of Deputies approved a strong resolution asking the Chilean Government to declare that there is justification for compulsory licenses for vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, supplies, and other technologies useful for the surveillance, prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of people infected by the coronavirus virus in Chile.

The resolution also has a strong transparency mandate, asking the Minister of Health to request the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Observatory on Health R&D to collect information on the costs associated with health technologies related to COVID-19.


Legislative Committee in Ecuador approves resolution on compulsory licensing of patents relating to the coronavirus

Posted on March 20, 2020 by Luis Gil Abinader Link:

Legislative Committee in Ecuador approves resolution on compulsory licensing of patents relating to the coronavirus

Today, the Education, Culture, Science and Technology Commission of the National Assembly in Ecuador approved a resolution asking the Minister of Health to issue compulsory licenses over patents related to coronavirus technologies. The resolution also asks the Minister of Health to use article 510 of the Cdigo Ingenios, a provision that allows the competent authorities to authorize third parties to access undisclosed information, including clinical test data.

There is also a strong article on transparency:

Article 5.- Urge the Ministry of Public Health of Ecuador to request the World Observatory for Health Research and Development of the World Health Organization (WHO) to collect information on the costs of research and development directly associated with vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, supplies, and other useful technologies for COVID-19 surveillance, prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment, including investments made by public sector institutions, private sector institutions, and charities.

The National Assembly is the legislative branch of the government of Ecuador. The Education, Culture, Science and Technology Commission, integrated by 12 lawmakers, is a permanent body of the National Assembly. The resolution was proposed by legislator Jimmy Candell Soto and approved unanimously by the Commission. Hern疣 Nez Rocha, former director of the patent office who led the agency during the approval of the Cdigo Ingenios in 2016; and Ecuadorian lawyer Diego Morales Oate, testified in favor of the resolution during a hearing held online today.

A PDF version of the resolution approved today is available here:

An English version of the resolution translated by KEI is available here: