July 18, 2024, 10:39 am

Mustafa Kamal Akanda

2023-07-20 22:54:15 BdST

Bangladesh needs revising patent act 2022 to cope with post-TRIPS regimeCSOs calls for corruption-free, accessible healthcare system with self-reliant pharmaceutical industry

Civil Society calls for corruption-free, accessible healthcare system with self-reliant pharmaceutical industry
Bangladesh needs revising patent act 2022 to cope with post-TRIPS regime

Under the TRIPS Agreement of the World Trade Organization, patentees must pay a special fee for manufacturing a patented medicine. Until 2029, Bangladeshi pharmaceutical companies can produce these medicines without any patent fee. However, after that period, medicine prices may significantly increase due to patent fees.

To ensure medicine availability for all, civil society representatives suggest self-reliance in raw materials (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API).

They also opined that, the Patent Act of 2022, while going in the right direction, must addess existing loopholes and make full use of TRIPS flexibilities.

These recommendations were discussed at a seminar organized by the COAST Foundation in collaboration with the Third World Network at CIRDAP auditorium in the capital.

The seminar, "Bridging the Gap: TRIPS and Enhanced Access to Medicines in Bangladesh," was presided over by Dr. Kazi Khalquezzaman Ahmad, Chairman of Palli Karma Shahayak Foundation. The event was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Director of COAST Foundation, with Md. Mujibul Haque Munir presenting the keynote. Other speakers included Dr. Sudip Chaudhuri, Former Professor of Indian Institute of Management, Rashid -E-Mahbub, President of the National Committee on Health Movement, Farida Akhtar of Ubinig, Sharif Jamil of Waterkeeper Bangladesh, Ranja Sengupta, and Pratibha Sivasubramanian of the Third World Network.

Md. Mujibul Haque Munir stressed the importance of medicine availability, as 44% of healthcare expenses in Bangladesh are spent on medicines. The pharmaceutical industry has made significant progress, meeting around 98% of the country's demand and exporting medicines to approximately 147 countries. However, the country currently does not pay fees for patented medicines, which might change once it becomes a developing country.

He proposed several recommendations, including self-reliance in raw materials, emphasis on research and development in the pharmaceutical sector, fighting corruption in the health sector, and ensuring universal health insurance for all.

Dr. Sudip Chowdhury emphasized the need for Bangladesh to achieve self-reliance in raw materials for medicines, requiring government policy support to establish a domestic raw material market.

Pratibha Sivasubramanian called for amendments to the Patest Act 2022, suggesting domestic companies be given the opportunity to obtain Compulsory Licenses to break patent rights and manufacture necessary medicines. She also stressed the importance of transparency in the patent process.

Farida Akhtar highlighted the significance of not treating medicine as a mere product and addressed the issue of domestic companies engaging in monopolistic practices.

Dr. Rashid E. Mahbub stressed the need for increased funding for research and political will to achieve accessible medicine for all and resolve pharmaceutical industry challenges.

Dr. Kazi Khalikuzzaman Ahmad proposed a joint research system between universities and pharmaceutical companies, requiring policy and financial support from the government.

He also emphasized developing skilled manpower to adapt to future industry changes and increasing allocation for the entire health sector.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury acknowledged Bangladesh's pharmaceutical achievements but urged the country to become self-reliant in the industry within the next eight years to ensure affordable medicine access for all.

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