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No. 390, 13 December 2021

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Aligning patent examination with public health policies in Central America


Aligning intellectual property with national policies in other areas is of critical importance to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. One of the important areas in this regard is public health, as the recognition of patents, data protection, and other intellectual property rights can affect access to pharmaceutical products if the right balances are not introduced in legislation, administrative practices and judicial decisions, consistently with the flexibilities allowed by the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement).

Pursuant to this objective, the South Centre imparted a regional training course, addressed to officials of Central American Ministries of Health and intellectual property offices, on public health and intellectual property with emphasis on examination of pharmaceutical patents. The course was designed and implemented in collaboration with the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) regional office for Latin America and Caribbean networks (LATCA) and imparted on 5, 10 and 11 November 2021. The participating countries were Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The course -which was delivered through the South Centre virtual academy,, and three live virtual sessions- covered the following issues:

  • the relationship between patent protection and access to medicines and vaccines
  • challenges for access to medicines in Central America
  • exclusions and exceptions to patent rights
  • compulsory licensing and government use
  • Bolar exception
  • test data protection for pharmaceutical products
  • examination of pharmaceutical patent applications, review of typical patent claims
  • the experience of Cuba in the examination of pharmaceutical patents of biological origin
  • patent oppositions
  • participation of third parties in the examination of patent applications
  • opinion of health authorities on pharmaceutical patent applications

The course was facilitated by experts from the South Centre: Carlos Correa, Executive Director, Germán Velásquez, Special Advisor on Health and Policy, Viviana Muñoz Tellez, Coordinator of the Health, Intellectual Property and Biodiversity Programme, and Vitor Ido, Programme Officer; ITPC LATCA: Alma de León, Director, Marisabel Colorado, Program Coordinator on TRIPS flexibilities, and Giovanni Francisco Guevara, independent researcher;  and the Cuban patent office: Marleny Cruz Gibert, Head of the Department on Patents, Victoria Gómez Sardiñas, Pharmaceutical Patent Examiner, and Rolando González Hernández, Pharmaceutical Patent Examiner.   



Participants appreciated the opportunity and considered that the course helped to increase capacities, facilitated exchange and learning from experiences in the region. They found that the materials provided during the course will be of use in their work. Many requests were made for follow up national trainings. 

For more details about the course including the program, see

The South Centre is open to receive requests for capacity building in the area of public health and intellectual property; see

Author: Viviana Muñoz Tellez, Coordinator of the Health, Intellectual Property and Biodiversity Programme, South Centre 

SOUTHNEWS is an e-newsletter service of the South Centre providing information and news on topical issues from a South perspective.

To view other articles in SouthNews, please click here.

For more information, please contact Anna Bernardo of the South Centre: Email, or telephone +41 22 791 80 50.
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