July 13, 2011, Vol 306, No. 2, pp 127-226
The WHO Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework: A Milestone in Global Governance for Health
David P. Fidler, Lawrence O. Gostin
[First 150 words]
After years of negotiations, the World Health Organization (WHO) reached agreement on a pandemic influenza preparedness (PIP) framework for the sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines and other benefits in April 2011. 1 The framework addresses a troubling controversy—should low- and middle-income countries share influenza virus specimens with WHO without assurances that benefits derived from sharing will be equitably distributed?
During the avian influenza A(H5N1) outbreaks in late 2006, Indonesia refused to share virus specimens with WHO, claiming it was unfair to give pharmaceutical companies access. Industry would use viruses to patent vaccines and antiviral medications that Indonesia could not afford. Indonesia asserted sovereignty over viruses isolated within its territory, grounded on the Convention on Biological Diversity. Indonesia also argued that the 2005 International Health Regulations did not require states to share H5N1 viruses. 2 The international community feared that Indonesia’s refusal to share would impede surveillance and …