Patients and Ministers discuss access to essential medicines in Ukraine

Working together to reform patent law in Ukraine – and new Working Group is founded.

Last month (21 April) our partner, the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, brought patients, decision-makers and legal experts together to discuss access to essential medicines. As a result, a new, significant Working Group has been formed.

The roundtable event “A Strategy for Ensuring Economic Affordability of Medicines” was hosted by the Network with expert support provided by the Institute of Intellectual Property of National Academy of Law Sciences of Ukraine.

The main goal of the roundtable was to discuss the potential for governmental bodies to get more involved in the ongoing patent law reform in Ukraine. In particular, there is a relevant and important role for the Ministry of Health and State Expert Center (Drug Regulation Authority), and the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, as well as the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine.

Representatives from these key governmental departments were in attendance, along with representatives of international organizations, patient organizations, and leading national specialists in patent law.

Solving one of the “most important problems”

The roundtable participants discussed legal mechanisms established by the TRIPS agreement and TRIPS flexibilities, aimed at increasing access to medicines, as well as examples from around the world where IP law has been used successfully to increase patients’ access to essential medicines.

The three main presentations and debates were centered on:

  • The importance of improving the patent application examination process, delivered by Sergiy Kondratyuk, the Network’s Legal Specialist on Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines.
  • Intellectual property rights implementation and its importance for access to medicines, led by Olga Stefanyshyna, Executive Director at Patients of Ukraine.
  • Patent law reform as the basic element of improving access to essential medicines in Ukraine, from Oksana Kashyntseva, Head of Industrial Property Department at Scientific and Research Institute of Intellectual Property.

“It is very important that the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and State Expert Center will join the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade efforts in finding the right balance between the intellectual property protection and access to medicines. This is now one of the most important problems that remains to be solved to ensure better access to high-priced monopoly medicines,” said Sergiy Kondratyuk.

As a result of the discussions, the two Ministries have agreed to create a joint Working Group. This group will work on issues related to intellectual property and access to medicines and actively participate in ongoing patent law reform. Ukrainian civil society hopes that it will become an important step in implementing TRIPS flexibilities in Ukrainian patent law.