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Role of patent system in dealing with public health challenges discussed within a regional event

A regional workshop dedicated to the role of patent system in dealing with Public Health challenges was organised on 15 September 2021. Within the workshop were discussed Patent Law and Public Health: international regulatory framework and implementing mechanisms, compulsory licensing & access to medicines, recent developments in compulsory licensing legislation at the national level and ongoing legislative initiatives.

The workshop was organised with the support of the EU Project “Support for structured policy dialogue, coordination of the implementation of the Association Agreement and enhancement of the legal approximation process in the Republic of Moldova”, by the State Agency on Intellectual Property of the Republic of Moldova (AGEPI), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Eurasian Patent Office (EAPO).

Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, the event took place in hybrid format (online and physical presence of a part of participants) and gathered more than 70 participants, representing intellectual property offices, as well as other organisations in charge of intellectual property and public health in Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Primoz Vehar, Team Leader of the EU-funded project supporting the implementation of the Association Agreement, noted the project supports the Republic of Moldova in its efforts in implementing the Association Agreement with the European Union and gradual legal approximation with the European Union. At the same time, Mr. Vehar highlighted that intellectual property is one of the key topics in the Association Agreement and therefore the project’s team works closely with its national partners in the country, including the State Agency on Intellectual Property (AGEPI), on various aspects of intellectual property with special emphasis on the related legislative changes.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, the connection between patent law and public health has become significantly important, especially in terms of accessibility to medicines, the rights of states to intervene with compulsory measures. I am glad that this EU-funded project helped with the organisation of this event and provides support to the authorities in the Republic of Moldova, specifically to AGEPI, namely in related changes to the patent law, in the area of compulsory licensing, which will hopefully be introduced in the Republic of Moldova, as well.”
Primoz Vehar, Team Leader of the EU-funded “Support for structured policy dialogue, coordination of the implementation of the Association Agreement and enhancement of the legal approximation process in the Republic of Moldova”

Similarly, the General Director of AGEPI, Mr. Eugeniu Rusu, highlighted the topic of the conference is not only quite appropriate, but also very well anchored in current circumstances, expressing his hope that the workshop will facilitate the exchange of experience in this significant field.

Saule Tlevlessova, the President of the Eurasian Patent Office (EAPO) of the Eurasian Patent Organisation highlighted that the pandemic has imposed various challenges on intellectual property due to the race in registering vaccines and pharmaceutical products, hence sharing experience among intellectual property organisations is of utmost importance.

The State Agency on Intellectual Property informed the participants about the existing national legal framework in the field of patents, while presenting the draft law developed by AGEPI with the support of the European Union to ensure harmonisation in line with the European standards and practices of the legal licensing framework, in particular those related to the granting of patents in the field of health.

Ms. Tomoko Miyamoto, Head of Patents and Treaties Law Section of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) explained the peculiarities of the patent law in the context of innovation and access to health technologies, international regulatory framework and implementing mechanisms of the patent law in public health.

Furthermore, the EU expert Bojan Pretnar, former first Director of the Slovene Intellectual Property Office and former senior WIPO official, presented the compulsory patent licensing in public health framework as laid down in the recently added Article 31bis to the WTO Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). This Article makes possible that compulsory licensing system in cases of public health is available also to countries which do not dispose with domestic pharmaceutical industry capable of producing the relevant licensed drugs. Mr. Pretnar also mentioned the importance of non-voluntary government-use licence for countries which are not Members of the WTO – provided that such countries do dispose with domestic pharmaceutical industry capable of production of relevant drugs under this type of compulsory licence.

The participants appreciated the usefulness of the regional workshop and expressed their interest and willingness to continue the discussions in subsequent events to address other issues related to intellectual property.

The EU-funded project “Support for structured policy dialogue, coordination of the implementation of the Association Agreement and enhancement of the legal approximation process in the Republic of Moldova” aims at increasing the capacities of the Government of the Republic of Moldova and other key national institutions in implementing the EU-Republic of Moldova Association Agreement. The project’s work is arranged into 4 components contributing to the further enhancement of structured policy dialogue with civil society, improving policy development mechanisms for adequate budgeting of strategic documents, supporting the legal approximation process by providing technical expertise and capacity building as well as upgrading the IT systems in public administration supporting the implementation of the Association Agreement. The project is implemented by a consortium led by DAI – Human Dynamics for a five-year implementation period.

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