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Who Owns the Copyrights of H5N1 Strains?

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posted on Feb, 7 2007 @ 05:29 AM
The question seems relevant now that Indonesia have stopped sharing data with WHO. Since January they ceased providing samples necessary in keeping track of the changes in H5N1, and crucial to the ability of developing the vaccine when the mutation into a human to human strain becomes reality. The answer to the question however is as simple as the unavoidable fact of this. Those who pay for it owns it. Who to pay but the governments in charge of those affected. The Indonesian government has thus signed a memorandum of understanding with a Swiss unit of U.S. company Baxter International Inc. to develop a human bird flu vaccine - and they get the sole right to the samples.
Experts say sharing of H5N1 samples is crucial as it allows specialists to study the makeup of the virus, and trace its evolution and the geographical spread of any particular strain. Samples are also used to prepare vaccines.

Kim C. Bush, president of the vaccine unit of Swiss-based Baxter Healthcare SA, said at the signing ceremony the decision on samples was Indonesia's, not the company's.

"The government providing strain and samples to other countries and other agencies is completely unrelated with the collaboration under the MOU. Baxter is not involved in those processes," Bush said in a speech.

Health ministry spokeswoman Lily Sulistyowati said on Tuesday regarding the Indonesian stance: "We cannot share (virus) samples for free. There should be rules of the game for it."

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

Coming from a Scandinavian country I have always taken granted -- yes, human right given -- that healthcare is for the common good, to the individual and the society at large. The fact people will pay any price for getting well when sick disproves it to be so. Few governments (if any) have the well being of its citizens as a priority.

Apart from the funding of cure, one should have thought at least the knowledge then, what drugs to use, conditions for cure, etc., would be common accessible, so to speak public domain. Whether you had the hardware to run it on would be your problem, but the specific programs, the knowledge about the cures should be available to any.

In the scientific society results has always been published without any restrictions on information and methods revealed, being the foundation for further research and new ideas. Obviously it is not like that anymore, because knowledge is power, and power can be turned into money. In other words, you have to worry about who takes home the patent.

In the case of Baxter Inc., the day the human-to-human strain evolves, they'll have the upper hand, as the Indonesian government claims the intellectual property and shares it only with that company. Only they will have access to the the right sample and be able to develop and patent the right vaccine -- which is sure to be among the biggest sales hits ever to rise on the corporate skies.

I found a website mentioning the method Baxter utilizes for its vacine. On a little down, under Bird flu vaccine shows good results in early trial it tells about new cell-based manufacturing methods using the live vira, compared to the "traditional" one using eggs of special breeds.

"Preliminary results from a 270-patient study suggest the vaccine is safe, well- tolerated and may provide wider protection against H5N1 -- the bird flu virus -- for a larger number of people," the health-care products maker says.

And where do they study 270 patients? In Indonesia most likely. It is a trend spreading and a huge cost-reducing factor to conduct bio-hazardous clinical trials and keep production in third world countries. All SE Asian nations promotes themselves in the field of bio-technologies and production these days.

Like this example from Malaysia shows. Rat Race on for Clinical Trials Bonanza

Some corporations owns the DNA of certain seeds, some even certain sequences of the human DNA, now someone will own the diseases as well. Wonder if you can sue the owners if you get ill then?

(note: there're 100s of bird flu threads on ATS, so I just picked Best of Sofi's)

Related News Links:

Related Discussion Threads:
EXCLUSIVE: Spin and Counterspin: New Bird Flu Mutation has 91% Fatality Rate in Humans
Beyond Bird Flu: The Perfect Microbial Storm
Humans Becoming Preferred Host for H5N1 "Bird" Flu?

[edit on 7-2-2007 by UM_Gazz]

posted on Feb, 7 2007 @ 08:09 PM
There seems to be a rise in the pharmaceutical fields in East Asian countries, lately. Some countries are avoiding copyright and infringement laws, and developing their own less expensive treatments and others like Indonesia are profiting off of it.

What's funny is that some of the Christmas trees recycled in the US had been used to create the H5N1 vaccine.

posted on Feb, 7 2007 @ 09:05 PM
Well, I don't know about Christmas trees recycled to create H5N1 vaccine!!??? Could you tell about it, DJ?

What I'm concerned about is legal issues will hinder or slow down the over all alert system -- and of course that the right to cure will be for selected individuals only.

Commercial Strategies Aim to Spin DNA Threads into Gold

Research scientists who work in public institutions often are troubled by the concept of intellectual property because their norms tell them that science will advance more rapidly if researchers enjoy free access to knowledge. By contrast, the law of intellectual property rests on an assumption that, without exclusive rights, no one will be willing to invest in research and development (R&D).

The argument for patenting public-sector inventions is a variation on the standard justification for patents in commercial settings. The argument is that postinvention development costs typically far exceed preinvention research outlays, and firms are unwilling to make this substantial investment without protection from competition. Patents thus facilitate transfer of technology to the private sector by providing exclusive rights to preserve the profit incentives of innovating firms.

It sure is a mindbugling --and sick-- issue about the rights to a creation universal, by God if you like.

From googling I found out the debate on the subject was heated about 6 years ago, initially spurred by the John More ruling of 1991.

In 1991, The California Supreme Court decided that a newly discovered cancer cell, known as "Mo," and any profits stemming from innovations relating to the cell were the sole property of the researchers who found and patented it. The man, whose body the cells were originally taken from, had no legal claim to ownership or copyright of the cells and could not demand compensation or other redress. The case, known as the John Moore decision, illustrates the legal and ethical dilemmas society faces in the age of biotechnology.

This ruling is likely to have consequences in line of the 1886 Supreme court ruling that stated corporate "personhood" with base in the wording of the then newly added 14th Amendment of equal rights.

In fact the John More ruling might mean that you don't own yourself.

posted on Feb, 7 2007 @ 10:38 PM

Originally posted by khunmoon
Well, I don't know about Christmas trees recycled to create H5N1 vaccine!!??? Could you tell about it, DJ?

Sure. The unprocessed material used to make the vaccine is pine, from the trees. The pine needles contains an oil that gives it its scent as well as what is used for the vaccine. That's about all I know.

posted on Feb, 7 2007 @ 11:42 PM
Good catch khunmoon.


Unfortunately, this is how the game is played. Here's some background, which I cut and pasted from my Bird Flu Spin and Counterspin thread.


The main goals were and are to profit - to control the economy, manipulate people and play everything as a business opportunity. Recent cover-ups have been unusually draconian, even for these guys. But in order for international corporate industries to profiteer, and profit from the death, disaster, and devastation of the bird flu pandemic, the following criteria must be met:

1) The pandemic must materialize unhindered, and

2) Take its course, while

3) Critical scientific information remains privately owned as Intellectual Property for "trade" purposes, and protected under the 2002 Bioterrorism Act.

This is a business strategy, at odds with humanitarian principles. And the real issue is about Open Source versus private Intellectual Property Rights. People versus profits.

CDC locks up flu data

Amid growing concerns that avian influenza will develop into a deadly pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is under fire by some in the scientific community for hoarding data crucial for vaccine development. The allegations come as CDC has issued new and controversial rules on what data, documents and other information it will - and will not - share with the public. Open government advocates are critical of the CDC's "Information Security" manual, the 34-page document that gives officials 19 categories to shield data from public scrutiny without obtaining a "secret" classification.


Flu researchers slam US agency for hoarding data

Flu researchers slam US agency for hoarding data.

ATSNN: Flu Researchers Slam US for Hoarding Data

ATS: US Reluctant To Share Important Flu Samples

Scientists who are researching influenza say their work is being hindered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is withholding data on most of the flu strains that scientists sequence, Reuters reports.


More than 200 scientists employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say they have been directed to alter official findings to lessen protections for plants and animals, a survey released Wednesday says.
More than half of the biologists and other researchers who responded to the survey said they knew of cases in which commercial interests, including timber, grazing, development and energy companies, had applied political pressure to reverse scientific conclusions deemed harmful to their business.

"The pressure to alter scientific reports for political reasons has become pervasive at Fish and Wildlife offices around the country," said Lexi Shultz of the Union of Concerned Scientists. ...A biologist in Alaska wrote in response to the survey: "It is one thing for the department to dismiss our recommendations, it is quite another to be forced (under veiled threat of removal) to say something that is counter to our best professional judgment."


The U.S. government is making it harder for scientists to speak to their global colleagues... Rep. Henry Waxman said he has a letter showing that the Health and Human Services Department has imposed new limits on who may speak to the World Health Organization. ...Under the new policy, WHO must ask HHS for permission to speak to scientists and must allow HHS to choose who will respond.

"This policy is unprecedented. For the first time political appointees will routinely be able to keep the top experts in their field from responding to WHO requests for guidance on international health issues,... This is a raw attempt to exert political control over scientists and scientific evidence in the area of international health," Waxman wrote.

"Under the new policy the administration will be able to refuse to provide any experts whenever it wishes to stall international progress on controversial topics."


The CDC has partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry; research is funded partly from tax coffers and partly by private companies. While the National Institutes of Health mandates Open Access publication of any research that receives any public funding, the CDC obviously does not. The CDC claims that it cannot keep up with information requests, but David Webster, president of Webster Consulting Group Inc., a health-industry consulting firm, says that the CDC may be concerned that sharing data might negatively affect its industry partners.

Concern grows over secrecy at CDC

Nature quoted Michael Deem, a scientist at Rice University, as saying: "Many in the influenza field are displeased with the CDC's practice of refusing to deposit sequences of most of the strains that they sequence." ...Nature's own analyses found that the CDC deposited less than a tenth of the 15,000 influenza A sequences in the gene database Genbank and the influenza sequence database at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. By comparison, a consortium led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases deposited more than 2,800 sequences this year alone.

One concern the CDC may have about sharing data is how it would affect any partnership it might have with vaccine manufacturers, said David Webster, president of Webster Consulting Group Inc., a health-industry consulting firm.

The CDC might be concerned that those manufacturers might not be able to recoup their investment if the information is widely available.

The decision was made early on not to eradicate mild disease, nor to prevent its spread and mutation. Instead, the developing pharmaceutical industry focused on treating secondary symptoms. Today, the drug industry is the largest and most profitable industry in the world, surpassing even the oil industry.

Also see: ATS: Rats, flies likely to spread avian influenza

...What can I say? Things are proceeding according to plan, with a little free market competition added to the mix. And I'm not so sure I believe in vaccines - or any other drug for that matter....


posted on Feb, 8 2007 @ 09:12 AM
Thanks for your gold nuggets, Sofi.

Sadly enough I agree with you on the cover-up. Anything open these days are a dream of the past (we believed in).

Sadly because we thought a new world was about to start. And where are we heading? the darkest of ages, where those who hold the knowledge hold the power.

I always thought mankind developed along a rising curve. Now I see only his technologies does, not his humanity, spirit or moral, even think his code of ethics might be declining.

posted on Feb, 8 2007 @ 09:22 AM
FYI - If you are not convinced it's all just a game, note that the US embassy recently put out a warning for Americans travelling to Indonesia to avoid cats. Despite the fact that it's common, old knowledge that other animals carry bird flu, spread it around and transmit it mechanically.

Mechanical transmission by anything that can walk, crawl, or fly from farm to farm can and will occur. Mammals, like rats and mice, insects (including flies) and wild birds, especially waterfowl can transmit avian influenza. AIV can also be found on the outer surfaces and inside of shell eggs. Transfer of eggs is a potential means of AIV transmission. Airborne transmission of virus from farm to farm probably does not occur. The spread of avian influenza between poultry premises almost always follows the movement of people and equipment.

Indonesia interfered with the CDC deal, and got punished with a direct hit to their tourism industry.

In comparison, bird flu also is endemic in Vietnam - BUT - that communist country agreed to privatize their oil and gas industries, so they're "protected."

posted on Feb, 8 2007 @ 12:11 PM
"It's always the same, the name of the game, is who do you know higher up" (Bob Dylan)

I'm convinced.

You have probably noticed various govt bodies HHA, OSHA have started to issue guidelines, new guidance on how to react --and act-- in case of a pandemic.

Here's from OSHA's released the other day
OSHA National News Release

"In anticipation of a flu pandemic, our top priority is protecting the safety and health of America's working men and women," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Edwin G. Foulke Jr. "Employers and employees should use this guidance to help identify risk levels and implement appropriate control measures to prevent illness in the workplace."

Yes, first priority will be to keep the economy going ... and those who are not part takeing the first left to die. It's only natural.

Foregive my sarcasm, but we need something to stand against with.

BTW, what do you know about the Baxter method of using the highly virulent "wild type" strain of the virus, the authentic virus
circulating in nature, to manufacture vaccines.

Isn't a further health risc involved in that method of production?

posted on Feb, 13 2007 @ 12:02 AM
Sometimes it takes a while, but...

Indonesia's bird-flu snub highlights drug inequity

When Indonesia served notice last week it will not co-operate with a pandemic flu vaccine system that doesn't look after the needs of Indonesians, there was little surprise among international observers who have long worried about the disparities between pandemic haves and have-nots.

Some think Indonesia's shot across the bow may finally force the world to try to rectify the troubling inequities in pandemic preparations.

Developing nations are pressured to contain outbreaks and share viruses for the global good, but are crowded out of pandemic drug and vaccine markets.


Who pays to stop a pandemic?

Bird flu has not yet turned into a pandemic, but it is already killing the meager hopes of some of the world's poorest people for a marginally better life.

When poultry become infected with the deadly strain of avian influenza (H5N1), it is essential that all birds nearby be culled to prevent further spread. We all stand to benefit from this important pandemic prevention strategy, recommended by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Unfortunately, however, the world's poor are unfairly shouldering the burden of the intervention. is not clear how Jakarta's poor will replace the income they once received from chickens and other birds. When officials impose widespread culling, industrial-scale poultry producers — like the company that owns the large British turkey farm where bird flu was found this month — usually have the resources to absorb the losses. But when the birds of small- scale poultry farmers are culled, entrepreneurs who were just beginning to move up the development ladder can be plunged back into poverty. The most dependent and vulnerable members of the community become even more dependent and vulnerable.

posted on Feb, 14 2007 @ 09:50 AM
Finally, a reasonable analysis:

Why Indonesia is blocking a bird flu vaccine

The Indonesian government is refusing to supply bird flu samples to foreign scientists. GlaxoSmithKline has attacked the decision, which will hinder its efforts to develop a human vaccine for the virus.

So what’s the problem? The Indonesians want the World Health Organisation (WHO) to provide guarantees that the samples won’t be used commercially.

The Indonesian government is worried that if it hands over the samples, they’ll go from the WHO to big pharma vaccine-makers such as GSK, who’ll then create vaccines that the poor in developing countries won’t be able to afford.

But. We need to watch how industry spins this one - the goal being to make more and more money.

International corporations will spin the situation to take greater patent control - likely through length of patent.

A really, really bad idea, especially given that genetic codes are being patented with regularity.

...some reform of patent law is probably at least part of the solution. As Graham Searjeant points out in The Times, the way patents work has a lot to do with why it’s becoming too expensive to develop cost-effective drugs. “Trials and approval take up an ever bigger chunk out of the typical 20-year patent period,” he says. Because “the clock starts when a chemical is first protected” companies have to charge high prices “to recoup costs and earn returns fast” before the patent expires.

posted on Mar, 27 2007 @ 11:17 AM
An update on the OP.

Sample sharing needed to study H5N1 mutation: expert

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A leading virologist urged Indonesia on Tuesday to resume sharing its H5N1 bird flu virus samples as scientists need to know if the strain has mutated or even built resistance to anti-viral drugs such as Tamiflu.

There are no commercially available vaccines for bird flu, though several companies are working to produce them. Total global capacity to make vaccines against diseases is only about 300 million to 400 million doses a year -- far below what would be needed in a pandemic.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

The last paragraph is especially worrying. Further more to make it effective it must be designed from the strain which actually will cause the pandemic.

Wonder who will be first in the row when it hits -- besides wealthy Indonesians.

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