Initial reports were that Indonesia planned withhold samples of the H5N1 bird flu it had isolated in order to 'keep control of intellectual property rights' in an exclusive deal with Baxter. It then transpires that the govt had concluded that the normal approach to 'sharing' sample with the WHO led to the WHO 'sharing' samples with pharmacorps, which would then screw high prices for derivative vaccines out of the country that 'shared' originary samples. Once that came out, the govt agreed -- after a notably short five-hour negotiation -- to 'share' them, 'but only after steps were taken to ensure developing countries get fair and equitable access to vaccines.' Which makes it sound, in a classic mode of journalistic ~misrepresentation, as though the WHO caved in very quickly when its role in facilitating expropriation of knowledge that is at once indigenous *and* 'high-tech' was exposed.
This might be a very interesting precursor of a trend in which LDCs with access to critical ~primary sources play an extreme-sounding IPR card, not so much to profit from it but, rather, to demolish normal cycles of loss after loss. It's hard to tell from the thin coverage; but it's interesting to specualte about other applications of this approach to disassembling rentier networks. Cheers, T - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - February 6 2007 02:00 Indonesia withholds genetic samples of bird flu virus By John Aglionby in Jakarta and Andrew Jack in London Indonesia, the country worst hit by the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, has stopped sharing human genetic samples of the highly pathogenic illness with foreign laboratories, raising fears it could slow international efforts to prepare for a pandemic. Officials say Indonesia stopped providing samples internationally last month, hindering efforts to confirm whether the virus killing its citizens is H5N1 and limiting production of vaccines to help prevent its spread. Dr Triono Soendoro, director-general of Indonesia's National Institute of Health Research and Development, said the step to withhold samples was taken because the government wanted to keep control of the intellectual property rights of the deadly strain of the virus. He declined to give further details but said "all will be revealed" on Wednesday, when Indonesian officials are due to announce they are collaborating with Baxter International, the world's biggest maker of blood-disease products, on a vaccine. The move comes as Britain battles its worst outbreak of H5N1 bird flu, which yesterday led to several countries banning UK poultry imports, including Japan and South Korea. Defra, the UK's food, agriculture and rural affairs ministry, said it expected the restrictions to last until the UK had achieved "disease-free status". The UK exports 270,000 tonnes of poultry meat annually, worth about Â£300m, according to the British Poultry Council. Analysts say Indonesia hopes to offer exclusive rights to the strain to one company and cut a deal on cheaper products once they are developed. One official warned that withholding samples could be counterproductive, since there was no guarantee the final human pandemic strain would derive from the current virus killing people in Indonesia. One bird flu expert in Jakarta said the move would not matter if Indonesia was able to do a full sequencing of its strain to detect mutations. "But given the country doesn't yet have the capability, this is now a very internationally worrying decision," the expert said. "If you reduce your chances of detecting whether a pandemic is about to occur, then a pandemic becomes more likely." Bird flu has killed 63 out of the 81 people infected in Indonesia since testing started in 2005, according to the World Health Organisation. Baxter confirmed last night that it expected to conclude a "framework for future collaboration" with Indonesia this week, which could involve intellectual property issues, but stressed that it would continue to comply with World Health Organisation rules on the sharing of virus samples. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - February 7 2007 18:42 Indonesia blames WHO for bird flu deal By John Aglionby in Jakarta and Andrew Jack in London Indonesia on Wednesday blamed the World Health Organisation for its decision to stop sharing samples of the H5N1 bird flu virus, claiming the UN agency passed them to pharmaceutical companies to make vaccines that Jakarta had to buy at high prices. Siti Fadillah Supari, the health minister, made the claim as she signed an agreement with Baxter International that effectively gave the US healthcare company commercial rights to samples of the country's human strain of bird flu virus. The move highlights fears among developing countries affected by avian flu that, while they may co-operate with international researchers into the disease, they may nevertheless be unable to benefit from new vaccines and drugs that result. But it also comes just as WHO officials are attempting to extend international sharing arrangements that exist for seasonal flu strains to potential pandemic viruses. Indonesia last month started withholding samples of the H5N1 virus that has killed at least five people in the country this year. Ms Siti Fadillah justified the move, saying that specimens sent to the WHO "have been forwarded to their collaborating centre. There they have been used for various reasons such as vaccine development or research". "Later they sold the discovery to us," she added. "This is not fair. We are the ones who got sick, they took the sample through WHO and with WHO consent and they tried to produce it for their own use." She cited CSL, the Australian pharmaceutical group that has produced an experimental vaccine based on an Indonesian strain. "When I heard that Australia is developing a vaccine, I was very surprised because I have never given them permission." But David Heymann, acting head of communicable disease at the WHO, stressed that while there was a patent on the "reverse genetics" required to make seasonal flu strains safe for circulation, all vaccine manufacturers had free access to the strain. He warned that patent protection on human strains of the disease would threaten the current system of international collaboration and could prove counterproductive, since there was no guarantee Indonesia's strain would be the mutation that sparked a pandemic. Dick Thompson, a WHO spokesman in Geneva, said the agency wanted to discuss with Jakarta "how they think the laboratory network and databank have been misused". He added: "We're committed to investigating abuses if they exist and making sure they don't happen in the future." Under Wednesday's deal, a Swiss-based unit of Baxter International will develop a bird flu vaccine. Indonesia will own the vaccine and the rights to make and market it. Baxter will have access to Indonesian samples and will aid Indonesia's capacity to make vaccines. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - February 17 2007 02:00 Indonesia agrees to share bird flu samples By John Aglionby in Jakarta Indonesia agreed yesterday to resume sharing samples of the deadly bird flu virus with the World Health Organisation, but only after steps were taken to ensure developing countries get fair and equitable access to vaccines. The U-turn by the country worst affected by the H5N1 virus came after five hours of negotiations in Jakarta with Dr David Heymann, the WHO's chief of communicable diseases. Once sharing resumes, researchers should be able to see if the Indonesian strain of H5N1 has mutated into a form that makes human-to-human transmission more likely. Indonesia stopped sharing samples in mid-January after learning that the Australian pharmaceutical group CSL had developed a vaccine using the Indonesian H5N1 human strain without permission. It blamed the WHO for providing drug companies with free access to the samples. Siti Fadillah Supari, the health minister, said yesterday she had been convinced of the need to ensure "global public health security" but only in ways that were "just, fair and wise". Last week Jakarta signed a deal with Baxter International that gave the American company commercial rights to the Indonesian bird flu strain in return for supplying Indonesia with cheap vaccines. Dr Heymann said Indonesia would convene a meeting of interested parties next month to start developing the formal mechanisms to develop equitable vaccine access. But he said he hoped Jakarta would start sharing the samples well before that, in "a week or two". Dr Siti Fadillah refused to confirm that, saying only that Indonesia would wait until the new mechanisms were in place. The WHO assembly in May is due to debate a resolution regarding the extent to which nations can claim intellectual property rights over diseases that emerge within their borders. Jakarta wants IPR over its bird flu strain. *The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed poultry in the Moscow region for the first time, Russia's chief sanitary expert and head of a consumer watchdog was quoted by RIA news agency as saying yesterday, Reuters reports from Moscow. "The pathogenicity of this virus for people has not been confirmed. Vets have detected it; they confirm it is the H5N1 strain," Gennady Onishchenko said. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007 # distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission # <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism, # collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets # more info: [EMAIL PROTECTED] and "info nettime-l" in the msg body # archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: email@example.com