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Cablegate: Egyptian Health Officials Skeptical On Ipr

VZCZCXYZ0018
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #2735/01 2491523
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061523Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6808

UNCLAS CAIRO 002735

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

USTR FOR GROVES/SAUMS
STATE FOR EB/TPP/IPE BOGER
COMMERCE FOR USPTO KARIN FERRITER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD KIPR EG
SUBJECT: EGYPTIAN HEALTH OFFICIALS SKEPTICAL ON IPR
INITIATIVE, BUT OPEN TO DVC

REF: A. CAIRO 2692

B. STATE 107629
C. CAIRO 678

Sensitive but Unclassified, Not for Internet Distribution.

1. (SBU) Summary: GOE health officials and advisors view
many of the action items in the Special 301 Initiative for
Egypt as "TRIPS plus," exceeding Egypt's obligations under
the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property agreement,
and therefore feel no obligation to implement them, health
officials told USTR's Edmund Saums during meetings in Cairo
Aug. 29. However, members of a Ministry of Health advisory
committee agreed to participate in digital video conferences
with Washington officials to discuss Egypt's system for IPR
protection, and Ministry of Trade officials expressed
interest in participating in the initiative to improve IPR
protection as part of broader discussions on bilateral
economic relations. End summary.

2. (SBU) During a visit to discuss a range of bilateral
trade issues (ref A), USTR Director for the Middle East
Edmund Saums delivered to GOE officials a non-paper detailing
the Egypt-specific action items under USTR's Special 301
Initiative for 2007-2008 (ref B). Dr. Mokhtar Warida,
Advisor to the Minister of Health and Population for
International Cooperation and Agreements, responded that GOE
officials would consider the action items as "TRIPS plus,"
exceeding Egypt's treaty obligations. For instance, he
indicated that the GOE would not implement a "data
exclusivity" system to protect drug-test data submitted by
pharmaceutical companies from unfair use by their
competitors.

3. (SBU) Steering the demarche away from technical issues,
Saums suggested that a working-level group be formed
including USG officials in Washington and GOE officials to
discuss IPR issues in the pharmaceutical area by video
conference. He suggested the group convene in the fall,
before reporting for next year's Special 301 review begins.

4. (SBU) While Warida agreed to participate in such
discussions, members of the Ministry's Drug Policy and
Planning Center (DPPC) Advisory Committee resisted the idea.
They told Saums and IPR Attach that GOE officials have
explained the GOE's pharmaceutical IPR protection system many
times to various Embassy officials but continue to receive
the same requests for explanation. One committee member
indicated that answers to all the USG's questions on
pharmaceutical IPR protection are answered in published laws
and regulations. Saums responded that a video conference
would be a good opportunity to directly reach USG experts who
work on the Special 301 report to ensure they have a correct
understanding of the Egyptian system. The Committee members
agreed to participate in the video discussions, but requested
an agenda in advance. Saums proposed that the 301 initiative
action items are a good starting place for discussions.

5. (SBU) Another Committee member claimed that the GOE had
resolved the final two items in the action plan -- improving
coordination between the health and patent authorities, and
reducing the backlog of pharmaceutical "mailbox"
applications. Committee members said that the Patent Office
had forwarded for review all patent applications filed in the
mailbox up to 2005 and that they regularly review and return
these to the patent office within two to three weeks.
(COMMENT: Patent applications must be published after the MOH
review period. The numbers of mailbox applications published
so far is low compared to the number of applications filed in
the mailbox, suggesting that the patent office has not in
fact completed processing of all mailbox applications. END
COMMENT)

6. On a separate issue, Dr. Warida claimed that changing the
start time of the five-year data protection period to the
date of drug approval as outlined in the action plan would
require a change to the law. Saums suggested that the MOH
could offer alternative solutions to address the data
protection period offered within the current law.

7. Saums and Emboffs also raised the Special 301 Initiative
in meetings with Ministry of Trade officials on a rage of
bilateral trade issues. Deputy Minister Samiha Fawzy said
the GOE should maintain a single point of contact for the USG
on IPR and other trade issues, suggesting the Ministry could
fulfill the role of organizing GOE participation in digital
video conferences.


8. COMMENT: IPR Attach and Econoff are continuing to engage
GOE officials concerned with IPR -- such as the Patent
Office, the Information Technology Industry Development
Agency, and the MFA -- on the Special 301 Initiative. We
will also follow up with health and trade officials on the
DVC proposal and continue to report the GOE response.
RICCIARDONE

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