Community Property: An APN+ project to strengthen and build capacity of communities to challenge monopolies on medicines

Community Property: An APN+ project to strengthen and build capacity of communities to challenge monopolies on medicines


'Community Property ' is an APN+ project aiming to strengthen and build capacity of communities to challenge monopolies on medicines. It is premised on well-documented evidence since 2001 that affordable generic ARVs, and now DAAs, are key to universal healthcare. APN+ experience over the past decade has shown that community capacity to understand, advocate on and initiate legal interventions on IP barriers, to negotiate use of TRIPS flexibilities with governments and advocate against TRIPS-plus measures is vital to ensuring production and supply of generic medicines.
APN+ combines in-country advocacy and legal interventions in Vietnam, Myanmar and Bangladesh with a regional platform for capacity building, technical research and analysis and policy dialogue with governments to repel harmful provisions in FTAs; to incorporate flexibilities in national laws; and to ensure use of existing flexibilities.
The in-country partners, Vietnam Network of People living with HIV/AIDS (VNP+), Myanmar Positive Group (MPG) and Ashar Alo Society, Bangladesh (AAS) are all experienced community groups that are well placed, well respected and eager to implement this project

Project details

Time frame
01 May 2018 - 30 April 2021
€ 250,000
Active in
Bangladesh, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Vietnam


In order to meet the three outcomes of the program, three overarching, interlinked strategies will guide the implementation of this program through the research, capacity-building, and advocacy to reach the goal. Those strategies will be used to as approaches which contribute to the achievement of three outcomes.
The research will be used to strengthen the study related to the regulation on TRIPS Flexibilities in the new Patent Law, the analysis related IPR chapter in the FTA which will harm the access to medicines, the analysis of the current used of TRIPS Flexibilities in Indonesia and other studies that become barriers in the used of IPR in Indonesia. The result of those studies will be used for as the base to the develop the advocacy strategies and to increase the community capacity to educate, organize, mobilize and engage the relevant stakeholders so they could take a part in the advocacy activities on this programs to eliminate the TRIPS Plus clause in the FTA, to strengthen the TRIPS flexibilities regulation in the patent law and to encourage the government to utilize the maximum TRIPS flexibilities.
Those strategies will complimentary for the overall project design ensures that the three strategies will operate in an integrated framework. Essentially the result of study and analysis is expected to enhance the community capacity and enhance the advocacy results; building the community capacity is expected to lead more the strategic use of evidence and information; also to expected to lead the better advocacy outcomes and the impact of the program and its generate the increased interest among community and key stakeholders in such dialogues. It is designed to contribute to the achievement of advocacy objectives, and vice-versa.

Community groups

Access to affordable generic ARVs is the bed rock of the 90-90-90 goals; assurance of access to treatment is a considerable motivating factor in testing and ensuring PLHIV are on treatment and have viral suppression is of course directly related to continued, sustainable access to treatment. With decreasing funds, availability of affordable generics is key to ensuring that governments continue to rollout and expand ART programmes; in particular for second and third line medicines and for co-infections.
The focus of the project in ensuring patent law reform to include TRIPS flexibilities, the effective use of the LDC transition period including for local production and for the actual use of TRIPS flexibilities through patent oppositions is likely to benefit not just PHIV and those co-infected with HCV in the three countries but also across the region. Specifically, in the LDC partner countries, Myanmar has 250,000 PLHIV, HCV co-infections are 5.3% and Bangladesh has 12,000 PLHIV. Both are likely to graduate LDC status in the coming years and face a decrease in funding, donations, price discounts and licenses. In Vietnam 260,000 people live with HIV; HCV co-infection is high - as a middle income country, Vietnam is excluded from key licenses, has recently signed an FTA with the EU and has a high likelihood of signing RCEP and TPP-11. The regional component of the project will reach far more PLHIV in the region while the work in Bangladesh in particular provides an alternative source of generic ARVs and HCV medicines that has already benefitted hundreds of co-infected PLHIV in the region; a Bangladeshi company's launch of generic sofosbuvir at USD10 a pill as opposed to the patent holder's USD 1000 a pill price was a game changer for patients in the region.


WTO developing countries in Asia-Pacific are implementing TRIPS, granting 20-year pharma patents. One-in-three PLHIV had access to ART in 2015 in the region. Access to international aid and lower medicine prices is decreasing. The region has a high HCV burden and the largest number of global deaths. Developing and least developed countries in the region are leaders in using TRIPS flexibilities. They are signatories to the SDGs and steadfastly supporting the UN HLP recommendations. However, they are also in FTA negotiations with developed countries. This includes the 16-country RCEP negotiations with TRIPS-plus demands from Japan; EU and EFTA FTA negotiations; and attempts to revive the TPP.

Myanmar and Bangladesh are LDCs and do not have to comply with TRIPS till 2021 or grant pharma patents till 2033. However, both are classified as low-middle income countries and may graduate LDC status by 2024/25. Myanmar has 250,000 PLHIV, HCV co-infections are 5.3%. An IP law is being proposed; under the ongoing AIDSfonds project, MPG has worked hard to ensure incorporation of TRIPS flexibilities. These must be maintained as the a new Parliament examines it; possible patent examination in Europe may also blunt the effectiveness of strict patent criteria. Myanmar is in RCEP negotiations and may face TRIPS-plus provisions.
Bangladesh applied for the LDC pharmaceutical transition extension; it introduced first generic sofosbuvir and later daclatasvir and has become a lifeline for patients in VL-excluded countries. An IP Bill is being drafted and Bangladesh also has a mailbox. Early LDC graduation may endanger continued generic manufacture of new ARVs and DAAs due to the mailbox or the lack of TRIPS flexibilities in its patent law.
260,000 Vietnamese live with HIV; HCV co-infection is high. Vietnam is excluded from key VLs and is preparing for massive cuts in PEPFAR funding. Under the ongoing AIDSfonds project, regional advocacy focused on RCEP, national level on TPP; meanwhile EU-Vietnam FTA was quietly signed with TRIPS-plus. Challenges to unjustified ARV and DAA patents are now critical. Positive indications for the proposal include training on strict patent examination received by the patent office and a draft CL circular by MOH.


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