Debating patent law and access to medicines in Ukraine

roundtableLast month (9 December 2016), the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS held a roundtable meeting on ‘Patent Law and Access to Medicines’.

The roundtable brought together representatives from the Ukrainian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, Ukrainian Ministry of Health, UNDP, UNICEF, generic pharmaceutical companies’ representatives and leading national experts in patent law and access to medicines to debate the issues that are threatening access to medicines in Ukraine.

The meeting was facilitated by Sergiy Kondratyuk, the Network’s Legal Specialist on Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines, and Dr. Olena Orlyuk, Director at the Scientific and Research Institute of Intellectual Property. Relevant national stakeholders attended the event such as Bogdan Paduchak, Head of the Department of State Policy in Intellectual Property Sphere at Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, and Oksana Kashyntseva, Head of Center for Harmonization of Human Rights and Intellectual Property at the Scientific and Research Institute of Intellectual Property who opened the meeting.

Kondratyuk set the scene, explaining: “Big pharmaceutical companies are lobbying in Ukraine for full harmonization with EU data exclusivity regimen. This means extension of monopolies on medicines from 5 to 10 years even in the absence of patents. It is very important that the Ukrainian Ministry of Health and Ministry of Economic Development and Trade take a public health protection stance on this issue and do not permit further monopolization of pharmaceutical market in Ukraine.”

Speakers emphasized the importance of discussing patent law and public health issues in order to raise awareness of both professionals and general public. Increased awareness is a key component in increasing access to medicines.

A key presentation on Limitation of TRIPS-plus provisions aimed on improving public health, was delivered by Yuliia Ivakhnenko, Head of Pharmaceutical and Medical Law at Jurimex Law Firm and Yefimchuk Oksana, Patent Attorney, Head of Intellectual Property at Jurimex Law Firm. And a second main presentation on Concept of Compulsory Licensing Implementation in a Public Health Sphere of Ukraine, from Ivan Kozhevnikov, a senior associate at Paritet Law Firm.

Next steps

The presentations provided participants with an opportunity to debate the prospects for the improvement of the current patent law. They agreed that there are gaps in relation to intellectual property that limit patients’ access to essential medicines and which should be promptly mitigated by the limitation of TRIPS-plus provisions and implementation of the effective compulsory licensing legislation.

Based on these discussions, proposals are being drafted to improve the Ukrainian patent law in order to increase access to medicines.

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