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FLU EPIDEMICS, KNOWLEDGE SHARING, AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Abstract : Threats in the period 2005 to 2007of an H5N1 flue pandemic, and the spread in 2009 of the H1N1 pandemic, have contributed to the construction of a new field of debate concerning intellectual property and access to treatment. Discussions on the flue epidemics are now part of the new biopolicy that emerged at the end of the 1990s in the framework of health policies aimed at combating the Aids epidemic (Moatti et al, 2003, Cassier and Correa, 2009) and of conflicts over the appropriation of biological resources (Bellivier and Noiville, 2009). This biopolicy, aimed at safeguarding patients and populations, and at affirming their "right to heath" (cf. the Brazilian constitution of 1988) and " right to life" (Foucault, 1976) is promoted by an original alliance of certain activist states in the field of health-such as Brazil-, NGOs engaged in campaigns for access to treatment, and generics laboratories such as the FarManguinhos Federal Laboratory in Brazil and the Cipla laboratory in India. In North America and Europe, the conflict over patents and breast cancer genes, from 1995 to 2008, is also emblematic of this biopolicy of access to treatment (Cassier, 2007). Since 2005, an interesting aspect of the avian flu threat is that it has amalgamated several debates concerning the ownership and accessibility of science, life forms, and drugs. Four events have transpired: first, in the autumn of 2005, there was a clash over Roche's patented molecule, Tamiflu, and the generic copies that the Indian laboratory Cipla wanted to produce. Second, tensions surfaced over the restrictions imposed on the rapid circulation of virus sequencing data between laboratories, resulting in August 2006 in the creation of an international consortium for "data sharing". Third, a conflict broke out in 2007 between Indonesia and the WHO surveillance network over whether sovereign states should withhold virus strains that were identified and isolated in their territories. Finally, debates erupted over the proliferation of the sequences of the H5N1 virus and their impact on the development and accessibility of health technologies-a proliferation that worried the WHO to the point of it commissioning a report on this issue in November 2007 (Life Sciences Program, WIPO, 2007). There is moreover an abundance of reports on intellectual property and avian flu (US Congress, 2005, Third World Network, 2007).
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Maurice Cassier. FLU EPIDEMICS, KNOWLEDGE SHARING, AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. Influenza and Public Health : Learning from Past Pandemics, Edited by Tamara Giles-Vernick and Susan Cradock, Earthcan, 2010. ⟨halshs-02165461⟩

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