Background on the Commission

The Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health was created in May 2003 at the Fifty-sixth World Health Assembly which adopted resolution WHA56.27.

World Health Assembly

The resolution requested WHO to establish the terms of reference for an appropriate time-limited body to collect data and proposals from the different actors involved and produce an analysis of intellectual property rights, innovation, and public health, including the question of appropriate funding and incentive mechanisms for the creation of new medicines and other products against diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries, and to submit a progress report to the Fifty-seventh World Health Assembly and a final report with concrete proposals to the Executive Board at its 116th session.


The Commission will review the interfaces and linkages between intellectual property rights, innovation and public health in the light of current evidence and examine in depth how to stimulate the creation of new medicines and other products for diseases that mainly affect developing countries.

The analysis of the Commission will take into account how intellectual property rights can promote innovation relevant to public health, and how funding and other incentive mechanisms, including institutional arrangements, may contribute to this end.

A small secretariat has been established in WHO to manage the work of the Commission.

Terms of Reference

  • Summarize the existing evidence on the prevalence of diseases of public health importance with an emphasis on those that particularly affect poor people and their social and economic impact;

  • Review the volume and distribution of existing research, development and innovation efforts directed at these diseases;

  • Consider the importance and effectiveness of intellectual property regimes and other incentive and funding mechanisms in stimulating research and the creation of new medicines and other products against these diseases;

  • Analyse proposals for improvements to the current incentive and funding regimes, including intellectual property rights, designed to stimulate the creation of new medicines and other products, and facilitate access to them;

  • Produce concrete proposals for action by national and international stakeholders.

Members of the Commission

Members of the Commission were selected on the basis of demonstrated expertise and wide experience in the issues under consideration, geographical distribution, diversity such as gender, occupational mix and discipline.

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