Tag Archives: TRIPS

After the fact

We have all heard the setting, when we set the new premise after the fact. Most will remember the average male response to the option of sex before marriage “Maybe I’ll marry you tomorrow”, and we then congratulate ourselves, as we got some. Some have a slightly altered versions and especially in the Netherlands no one has forgotten some of the songs from the era of the VoC, especially when sharks were thwarted and the other vessel had silver. But that one too did not end nicely for the sailor, he was also promised the daughter of the captain, the other vessel was sunk, but the sailor never made it. After the fact is in some cases brilliant, but is it? That is the question we see when we consider ‘Urgently Waive Intellectual Property Rules for Vaccine’, (at  https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/12/10/urgently-waive-intellectual-property-rules-vaccine), yes it might be a week old, but the vaccine search started a year ago, and now, some want to avoid the IP rules. That is not fair on the makers of the vaccine. Their motives might have ben greed driven, but over half a dozen firms started to look for a solution. That solution is not a cheap one and in this the firms took that investment, because the vaccine sales would set them right. It is a fair setting, the governments were not able to step in to make it themselves and they bought the vaccines, as such I might not like the approach, but I get the setting that is being met. As such seeing “help boost global access to Covid-19 vaccines, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said ahead of a key World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Geneva on December 10, 2020”, is as I personally see it utter bullshit. How loud were these two (on every channel) fighting for this a year ago? Why was there nothing to be seen in the mass of newspapers and digital news bringers? 

Yes, after the fact is nice, but AI and HRW do get get to sulk like little bitches a year later. There could be a case if the bulk of the newspapers and media had mentioned that setting over the last year, but they did not, did they? 

I get it, it is not completely fair on some places, but what options were given to these locations by the UN buying vaccines for these regions? 

When we consider the setting we see in the first “At the WTO meeting, the governments will discuss a proposal by India and South Africa to temporarily waive some provisions of the Trade Related Aspects of the Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. The proposal would facilitate technology transfers so that Covid-19 medical products, including vaccines, could be produced quickly and affordably by manufacturers around the world”, and in the second “Higher-income countries have already made deals to buy up the vast majority of the world’s potential vaccine supplies for 2021, so the move would help scale up access for people in lower-income countries”, the question is what will the pharmaceutical companies do? 

We see the Washington Post give us ‘Coronavirus vaccinations have started. But people in Africa face a much longer wait’, and before we start screaming foul, remember, that so far only 1.6 million on 75 million people died and these numbers show is that 23% of ALL the deaths are in America. This leaves us with a mortality rate of 2.13% (which is not a really fair setting), yet what is also given is that 70% makes a full recovery, we seem to forget bout those parts. In this the survival part is more accurate than the non-living part on a few issues, we see that basically, 27% of those who contracted the disease are not out of the woods yet. As such, n this setting we see over reaction and opportunity seekers, opportunity seekers is that this is happening AFTER THE FACT. I get it, they didn’t want to do it ahead of time, because the pharmaceuticals have no intentions to make something for free, which makes sense too. So when we see “Kenya, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Pakistan have joined India and South Africa to co-sponsor the waiver proposal. The proposal was welcomed or supported by 100 countries, most of them low- or middle-income. But a small group of high-income countries and their trading partners have opposed it; including Brazil, the European Union, Canada, the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom”, we get that the low income nations need a solution and it will come, but the overreaction in light of the numbers we see are a bit out there and even as I have been against a whole range of pharmaceutical issues in the past, they do have their rights too, and TRIPS was there to enforce rights and duties. So to abolish it to deal with fear is just a bit of a no-no as I personally see it.

Is it fair on India and South Africa? Well that remains to be seen, but I do not see why, in India 144,914 died of the disease whilst India has well over 1.35 billion people, implying that their national mortality rate for Covid-19 is 1% of 1%, so what are they needing a vaccine for? The fact that 9,530,530 recovered from the 9,987,949 cases is also debatable, but that gives them that 95.4% fully recovered, as such why is India so up in arms on this? Perhaps the fact that for well over a year the numbers never made sense, perhaps India has a much larger problem, yet their pride got in the way of it all, so if they cannot properly inform us, why should they receive special consideration? I know, you might not agree and that I fair, but that is the setting. That is what we think plays. The Print (at https://theprint.in/health/india-is-missing-about-90-infections-for-every-covid-case-latest-govt-analysis-shows/567898/) gives us “Latest analysis by DST panel, that predicted end of Covid pandemic in India in February 2021, finds that about 60 per cent Indians have been infected so far”, that in light of the reported 9,987,949 total Covid cases, whilst the population of India is 1.35 billion makes less sense when those numbers were reported, all whilst they give us now (well three days ago) that 60%, implying that 810 million people in India have Covid-19, so what happened to the 800 million Indians in the numbers? 

At some point the ego of governments need to be held to account and I see no reason why they get to take the pharmaceutical players for a ride. In this I wrote this on October 31st “Even as India has well over 3 times the population of the US, there is no way that the numbers add up, with the US having over 9 million cases and India barely passing 8 million, the stage is not completely seen”, almost 2 months ago I questioned the Indian setting, the numbers never added up. I did that in ‘As jobs become available’ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2020/10/31/as-jobs-become-available/), but no one (in the media) asked serious questions regarding that stage, why not? 

As such, as I personally see it, India has nothing to complain about, perhaps they need to elect officials that will give them the actual setting, not some story by Mother Goose. It is the stage they set themselves, as such the ‘After the Fact’ premise that we see given now is as I personally see it, a cold spud in space.

And the 100 supporters need to consider their own numbers. India might be the most visible one, but it is not the only one and this Covid-19 stage was a serious one and another one will come, there is no doubt about that part, as such these governments better start playing nice, better start giving the others the numbers that are true, a much larger stage could have been prepared by the world as India hd been upfront about the 800 million missing infections, perhaps the lesson they are handed now will improve their view of what matters, their ego or reality. 

Yes, it almost sounds inhumane, but we accepted responsibility of certain choices, like laws, trade laws and IP Laws, we cannot switch them off when it pleases us, because we might as well throw all laws overboard in that game, a stage that bodes a lot of harsh stages when this happens.

There is of course the conversation that India and South Africa can have on what to do the next time around and that is fair, that is just and yes, it is a stage we must acknowledge, yet it is not after the fact and that is the proper stage to play and perhaps it will result in an adaptation to TRIPS, I cannot deny of oppose that setting, the question is what the pharmaceutical players will set at that point. We can all accept that their IP, is just that, it is theirs. It does not mean that a deal cannot be worked out, but it is done in advance, it is a set stage where they can decide how to act and at that point the HRW can be all dog and less humane, what happens then? Time will tell, for now we have this issue in play and we still have no real view on how many distribution point there are and how 4,000,000,000-6,500,000,000 vaccines will get to their destination. Because that too is a stage we forgot to look at, that many vaccines will imply that mutations are almost a certainty, yet how many we will see is not clear, when that happens, global travel as we know it will change forever. 

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Mental health or Medication

We have seen the premise in a few stages in the last decade and for the most people lean towards one or the other and that is fine, it is a hard choice to make and there is no real evidence which of the two is better in the long run. Mental health needs treatment, medication is at times not a cure, merely a way to create a timeline for treatment, or to minimise the impact of the situation. Yet there is also a medial state that is not mental health based, for example treating people with cystic fibrosis who have two copies of the F508del mutation, for them there is Orkambi. Yet, what is the status when this involves a politician? How delusional is a public speaker allowed to become before he is considered unhealthy and unable to perform his function?

That question came up when the Guardian gave me ‘Labour pledges to break patents and offer latest drugs on NHS‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/24/labour-pledges-to-break-patents-and-offer-latest-drugs-on-nhs). So not only is he making claims, he is basically pronouncing war on the World Trade Organisation, abolishing the TRIPS agreement and throwing it all overboard. As we realise that the World Health Organisation gives us: “As of February 2005, 148 countries are Members of the WTO. In becoming Members of the WTO, countries undertake to adhere to the 18 specific agreements annexed to the Agreement establishing the WTO. They cannot choose to be party to some agreements but not others“, the UK and the EU are both signatories, so Jeremy Corbyn is stupid enough to set a stage of war that endangers millions. To give a little consideration to the metrics, we get the numbers on Cystic Fibrosis, not merely those with these two mutations (a specific subset), we see that more than 70,000 people worldwide are living with cystic fibrosis. Approximately 1,000 new cases of CF are diagnosed each year. More than 75 percent of people with CF are diagnosed by age 2. More than half of the CF population is age 18 or older. Now this is not a good thing, we admit, yet we are looking to a population that is less than 0.001% of the entire population, more important the people that need Orkambi are a mere subset of that. And for the UK it would linearly mean that it affects only 0.1% of the 0.001% that optionally have it. That is his ‘limelight’; can someone please kick this idiot out of the Labour party (preferably out of UK politics altogether)?

And in the second part, no political party has any business being in the pharmaceutical industry, there is a reason why industrials should never have any political power (well, we lost that one ages ago, but still). His voice giving us: ‘party will create company to make cheap versions of drugs‘, whilst the metrics give us that it will be a population less than a 100 that have this version of Cystic Fibrosis that is what he is fighting for? He cannot even properly represent his constituency and now he is starting patent wars as well as a war with the World Trade Organisation on abolishing or severely changing The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)? Not only does it not make sense, the impact could be devastating for the UK. This is a person screaming ‘election’ and then spinning silent when it was offered.

It is my personal view that UK labour is better off getting the clown Ronald McDonald to do the Labour party bidding, and it will do a better job than Jeremy Corbyn ever could. His promises are no longer empty, they are now right-out dangerous.

Pharmaceuticals

There is a larger pharmaceutical issue and it has been going on for well over a decade, the issue that patents are reapplied well over 30 years after date, often in a slightly changed form, only barely passing the innovation line is the largest concern for generic medication, yet there are dozens of examples and Orkambi is nowhere near the top 10 in this. Lyrica (Pfizer), Rituxan (roche), Cialis (Eli Lilly), Xolair (Roche/Novartis), Restatis (Allergan) are 5 of the top 10 expiring patents with a value of a little over $16 billion in total, and those owners would like a little longer exclusivity, because the expiration will hit their bottom line in a real hard way. In that list Orkambi does not even stack up to any decent degree and we have larger issues gaining patents with a generic option and Corbyn’s need to make war with TRIPS, whilst the NHS has larger issues, especially as it was Labour who botched the NHS IT project losing £11 billion and small change to the degree of several millions is not one who should be casting voices on ending patents.

The sentiment is not wrong, but the chosen field is a little beyond stupid, making us wonder whether the man is personally dealing with mental health issues. We all have had that moment where we wanted to stand in front of Dwayne Johnson calling him Tinkerbell, not really wise, but we all have those inflated moments of self, to do what Jeremy Corbyn does worse hiding behind one 9 year old with: “Luis is denied the medicine he needs because its American manufacturer refuses to sell the drug to the NHS for an affordable price“, so this is not some Cystic Fibrosis case, this is a very specific case and the medication required many millions to create and pass FDA approval. A medication for CF patients with a rare mutation. With two specific mutations in a disease that knows more than 1,700 mutations that had been found in the CFTR gene. Orkambi works for patients with the F508del mutation in both copies the CFTR gene, the most common mutation in people with cystic fibrosis worldwide. So even if it is the most common, there are 1700 mutations meaning that his war on one medication to a specific subset that comes down to a lot less than 100 patients in the UK. So this idiot (read: Jeremy Corbyn) goes to war, promising to abolish TRIPS and leaving the WTO, all for a subset of people, too small to fill a village? Now consider that the UK has Pharmaceutical interests as well, the top two players in the UK are GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca representing almost £132 billion pounds, because if he does what he does, then those two will vacate as well, this is how stupid Jeremy Corbyn is, but he is hoping that you will not notice this as he is in feigned tears for one nine year old child. I only mentioned the top two, the field is larger than that, but Jeremy Corbyn is willing to throw it all in the air.

Can you please explain to me how the government budget will be met when two companies representing a taxable £100,000,000,000 leave the UK? This is the kind of short-sighted, BS carrying ventures that Jeremy Corbyn is handing its constituents. His claim is ‘In England about 5,000 young patients could benefit, but the NHS said it could not afford to pay the bill‘, if there are worldwide 70,000 Cystic Fibrosis (CF) patients the UK cannot have that many, the claim of “US drugs company Vertex priced Orkambi at over £100,000 per patient per year” might be true and for 100 patients that is still serious money, but we need to recognise that we cannot hand every working person a Ferrari, we do not have the money, and it is that extreme. We are in a position where until a patent ends, the maker gets to set the price, or not sell the product. In light of the numbers I see, I want Jeremy Corbyn to give us an exact list of these 5,000 patients and what medication they need. I reckon that the picture shifts a lot faster at that point. And we agree that larger changes are required, yet making a direct case to the WTO that patents cannot be extended above the 35 years is a lot better than abolishing the WTO. Yet Jeremy Corbyn has no options to do that, so he comes with a delusional plan to start a company that ‘create company to make cheap versions of drugs‘, whilst there are plenty of companies doing that, the case remains that patents hand exclusivity until they expire, this year 26 drugs are facing patent expiration and yet, Orkambi is not among them, but 26 patents will become generic, before 2022 42 patents will expire and that is good for a lot of people, yet this system is already in place, we do not need some delusional politician to add his need to become a rich pharmaceutical cat as well.

To be honest, I have never had such a low regard of UK Labour ever before, the fact that I have twice the regard towards LibDems than towards Labour at present is something I never thought possible in the age of Ed Miliband, whomever thought that Corbyn would be a worthy successor deserved the title ‘Joker of the Year‘, as I personally see it, it is actually that bad at present.

So whomever is happy that this optional mental health case is running the UK labour party is in desperate need of some medication (generic NHS funded options will be available).

 

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Original Greek food

In the Washington Post, the morning newspaper of choice for America (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/food/wp/2017/08/11/as-greek-yogurt-keeps-proliferating-greece-is-getting-protective/), we see an article on yogurt, Maura Judkis shows us the new way to exploit Parmesan, this is by making yogurt and calling it Greek! With “The Ministry of Agriculture has assembled a group that plans to apply to register “Greek yogurt” in the European Union Register as a term with a protected geographical indication (PGI) or protected designation of origin (PDO)“. In this my initial question would be, ‘Why was this not done before?

Greece needs all the value it can get and Greek yogurt is apparently a big one. I love the stuff, but even I was a bit surprised to see the result with “Chobani saw its sales go from just over $3 million to more than $1.1 billion in its first five years“. So the fact that Chobani is not Greek is not in Greece and owned by a Kurd named Hamdi Ulukaya did not raise flags? I reckon this is one smart cookie; he bought the dispensed building from Kraft and turned it into a goldmine. So is Hamdi in a tough spot? I reckon he is. In his defence he is applying the Greek method of making Greek yogurt, so he has validity in his product, unlike the Czech version, which was taken to court and got scolded. Now, he is the part that is in debate. With “Using the term ‘Greek yogurt’ for products produced outside Greece would deceive consumers and would create unfair competition in the E.U. market” we see a valid case. Even as Parmesan is clearly an Italian product and such should be protected, Chobani finds itself in a similar predicament, or do they?

You see, the origin of Greek yogurt is still at times an issue. Even as we accept ‘Yogurt is known from ancient times , since there are reports from the historian Herodotus in 5th century B.C. and the famous doctor Galen, 2nd century A.D. There are also references to Indo culture that present yogurt with honey as the food of the gods

As I look at some of the historic facts, we need to ask questions, because Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus, which was in fact Persian. Some of the historical parts are a little sketchy, yet of that given and from the fact that he had travelled the ‘then’ known world. Where exactly did it come from and was he calling it Greek Yogurt, because he was Greek? In addition, was the art of straining yogurt limited to Greece?

So although Greece clearly has a case trying to protect Greek Yogurt, is this the trap for the product? So when we look at Article 22 of trips, (at https://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/27-trips_04b_e.htm) we see:

Protection of Geographical Indications

  1. Geographical indications are, for the purposes of this Agreement, indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.
  2. In respect of geographical indications, Members shall provide the legal means for interested parties to prevent:

(a) the use of any means in the designation or presentation of a good that indicates or suggests that the good in question originates in a geographical area other than the true place of origin in a manner which misleads the public as to the geographical origin of the good;

(b) any use which constitutes an act of unfair competition within the meaning of Article 10bis of the Paris Convention (1967).

So here we see the protection that Greek Yogurt has or should already have, and that is now the issue of Chobani. In addition, the Washington Post gives me something weird. With “But those rules won’t apply in the United States, where makers are free to label their yogurt as Greek (and where the distance from Greece makes consumer confusion less likely). There are dozens of “Greek” yogurts in grocery stores, from popular brands like Chobani, Yoplait, Dannon and Fage (a Greek company)“, which is an issue, because as a signatory of the WTO, the US should be at the top of enforcing parts of this. Yet with the opposing defence of ‘the distance from Greece makes consumer confusion less likely‘ we see another part of implied American exploitation. It is seen in a paper by Peter Drahos titled ‘Developing Countries and International Intellectual Property Standard-setting‘ (at http://www.anu.edu.au/fellows/pdrahos/reports/pdfs/UKCommIPRS.pdf)

On page 6 we see “For example, a number of corporations from the US, Europe and Japan claiming to represent the international business community released a document in 1989 that indicated strong support for a plurilateral agreement on intellectual property during the Uruguay Round (the mechanism of modeling). Australia supported the US position on TRIPS despite being a net intellectual property importer because it believed that by doing so it would achieve gains in the area of agriculture.

The US has been playing a powerful business game and they have seemingly won, yet as the sides that have been agreed on, the US is in a place where they would have to give in towards Europe, this is partially clear when we look at the information that the USPTO gives us. Yet in all this the Washington Post is equally giving a disturbing fact. From their view ‘But those rules won’t apply in the United States, where makers are free to label their yogurt as Greek‘, whilst at the same time the United States Patent and Trademark Office (at https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/web/offices/dcom/olia/globalip/pdf/gi_system.pdf) gives us: ““Geographical indications” (“GIs”) are defined at Article 22(1) of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) 1995 Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) as “indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin.”” as well as “Geographical indications serve the same functions as trademarks, because like trademarks they are:

1) source-identifiers,

2) guarantees of quality, and

3) valuable business interests.

The United States has found that by protecting geographical indications through the trademark system – usually as certification and collective marks — the United States can provide TRIPS-plus levels of protection to GIs, of either domestic or foreign origin.

So from that part, not only is the WP incorrect (to some degree), if Greece pushes forward (and they should), there is every chance that Chobani will soon be relabeling their product. They should consider going with ‘Original Strained Yogurt‘ and the faster they move, the quicker they get to push the envelope in the US (and Global) on the niche they are creating. Oh, and Chobani is not the only one in this situation, there are heaps more and as such Greece should have pushed for the changes a lot sooner, if only to give push and rise to Greek exports.

Even as the Washington Post is trivialising it with: “No, actually, we’re all about French yogurt now. What is French yogurt? It’s a yogurt that comes in a cute glass pot, with a cute brand name — “Oui” — made by Yoplait“, which is merely the waves of consumers, they will get back to the Greek solution and as such for players like Chobani to get the ‘Original Strained Yogurt‘ message out will matter sooner rather than later, because the moment the consumer wave is bored with the glass cup, they will look around again and at that point whoever plays the game better gets those consumers and with the increase of 400 times the original revenue in 5 years makes it a serious task to set the right message and address the right people. I took one look at their website (www.chobani.com) and noticing how ‘Greek Yogurt‘ is their forte, which is not bad, yet if Greece gets their way in this and the information as even the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) gives it, the Greek enforcement would not be totally impossible, adhering to change and educating the consuming readers now will make a truckload of difference down the track. In my view it is not whether the ‘Greek Yogurt‘ mention is valid or not, it is for the most the strongest message the website throws into our eyes and as such they need to consider their steps. The only other thing I noticed is that they had not taken the trouble to make a mobile app to keep people informed, with a $1 billion plus, that seems like a failure to me. If the product is all, than being seen everywhere matters, especially in this mobile environment. Even when we take the Denver Post (March 9th) at their word, where Chobani chief marketing officer Peter McGuinness said he’s not worried about imitation. “It hasn’t hurt our business because our food is better”, this might be true in his case, yet the rivals need to get creative, so Peter McGuinness needs to get (read: stay) ahead of them before they get a chance to catch up, the game is not just to get ahead of all, it is equally a case to make sure that they cannot catch up. It is the one lesson that Sony learned too late with Betamax, VHS was never anywhere near the quality that Sony offered, yes in 1983, 8 years after Betamax was released it was clear that VHS had won and it was downhill for Betamax from there. It seems to me that if Chobani is not assertively busy keeping the message on track others can start to catch up and as such Chobani should not give up ‘Greek yogurt‘, but informing the consumer what ‘Original Strained Yogurt‘ is could make the difference between a clear first position, or a shared top group. The need for that part is equally in the Denver Post as we see “Then there’s the food companies’ relentless drive to improve profit margins. Amid the industry’s sales decline, General Mills, Mondelez International Inc., Kellogg and Campbell have aggressively cut costs“, the question becomes how are they cutting costs? Are they resorting to additives or alternatives to straining as short cuts in manufacturing? Either way, at this point Chobani could have the edge on two terms (for now) and a clear ‘original’ message if Greece continues and secures protection on Geographical Indication. The Washington Post was not incorrect in their statement, even as it differed from the USPTO, yet the other side is that even as the TPP is dead, whatever follows will still have the parts in it and Europe is more and more protective of certain items. We saw in 2014 “As part of trade talks, the EU wants to ban the use of European names like Parmesan and Gruyere on cheeses made in the US“, with consumer value being more and more important, whatever trade agreement comes through at some point, the Europeans will push for this part and the US with much larger Pharmaceutical avenues will most likely give in on that point if they want to have any hope of stopping generic medication to get a freehold in the EU and UK. As such those who alter the course of their products now are in a much better position when they get overrun with some ‘sudden’ news on the matter. In this, I will not and cannot proclaim I am correct. Yet I can state that my view is indeed more likely than not the correct assessment. We will see soon enough if my view holds water. The fact that Pappas Post reported 22 hours ago “Greece’s Ministry of Agriculture has (finally) assembled a group of experts that are planning the application process to register “Greek yogurt” in the European Union Register as a term with a protected geographical indication (PGI) or protected designation of origin (PDO)” implies that the forming of the application is now underway, and whichever trade talks happens during the current US administration could give rise to changes that Chobani and others need to comply with soon thereafter.

 

 

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