In 2017 the Malaysian government issued a Government Use License for a Hepatitis C medicine. Following the recent change of government, Geneva Network in collaboration with local partner the Galen Centre organised a half day round table to assess the impact of this policy and to emphasise the important role of intellectual property rights in facilitating access to, and innovation of, new medicines.
Geneva Network’s Philip Stevens began the day by outling the linkages between innovation, IP and economic development, followed by Azrul Mohd Khalib’s, of the Galen Centre, overview of the timeline of the government use license and its negative impact on various international IP and innovation rankings. This theme was further explored by Chew Phye Keat, past president of the Malaysian Intellectual Property Association, who emphasised the need for predictability and transparency in the deployment of flexibilities in IP law, which is arguably lacking in the Malaysian context.
Prof. Mark Shchultz of Southern Illinois Law School explained the important role of IP in protecting the market-building investments necessary to launch a medicine in a new country, while Indonesia’s Widya Wihardijono emphasised the importance of IP to pharmaceutical innovation. Ong Mei Ching of cancer access charity, the Max Foundation, concluded by explaining the complexity of getting drugs to patients, particularly in resource-poor settings in Asia.
During the visit to Kuala Lumpur, Philip Stevens of Geneva Network, Azrul Mohd Khalib and Prof. Shcultz also visited the offices of local stakeholders to share views on Malaysian innovation, access and trade issues.