Dr. Maria C. Freire Appointed to World Health Organization Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health

February 11, 2004

Today, the Director-General of WHO, Dr LEE Jong-wook, announced the members of the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH). Dr. Maria C. Freire will be part of a 10 person Commission panel which has been established as a result of a resolution at the 2003 World Health Assembly (WHA56.27).

Dr. Freire's statement on her appointment:

“I am honored to be a member of the Commission, and welcome the opportunity to work with my colleagues to address these important issues. In setting up this Commission, the world has recognized the critical need to develop medicines for the diseases of poverty and to make these medicines available to all patients in need. I am committed to finding ways to balance the social imperative of such access with the economic requirements of drug development."

The Chairperson of the Commission will be Madame Ruth Dreifuss, President of the Swiss Confederation from 1999 to 2002. The vice-Chair will be Dr. Ragunath Anand Mashelkar, who is the Director-General of India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, one of the largest chains of industrial research and development institutions in the world.

The other seven members of the Commission are (in alphabetical order):

  • Professor Carlos Correa, a lawyer and economist from Argentina, is Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies on Industrial Property and Economics Law, at the University of Buenos Aires.
  • Professor Mahmoud Fathalla is a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, former Dean of the Medical School at Assiut University, Egypt, and Chair of the WHO Advisory Committee on Health Research.
  • Professor Trevor Jones is Director-General of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, and was previously Director of Research and Development at the Wellcome Foundation Limited.
  • Mr. Tshediso Matona, an economist and trade policy expert, is Deputy Director-General in South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry.
  • Professor Fabio Pammolli is Professor of Economics and Management at the University of Florence. He is the Director of European Pharmaceutical Regulation and Innovation Systems at the University of Siena.
  • Professor Pakdee Pothisiri, with a background in public health research, is Senior Deputy Permanent Secretary of Health, Government of Thailand, and formerly Secretary General of the Thai Food and Drug Administration.
  • Professor Hiroko Yamane is Professor of International Economic Law, Economic Law and European Community Law at the Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, specialising in trade law, competition and intellectual property rights.

The resolution called for WHO to establish a time-limited body to “produce an analysis of intellectual property rights, innovation, and public health, including the question of appropriate funding and incentive mechanisms for the creation of new medicines and other products against diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries.” The terms of reference and criteria for selection of Members are contained in a document submitted to WHO’s Executive Board in January 2004.