Analytical Note, December 2014

Transition Period for Providing Patent Protection for Pharmaceutical Products by LDCs: The Need for Extension

How can Least Developed Countries (LDCs) make effective use of the transition period for the purposes stated in Article 66.1 of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and in particular to promote access to affordable medicines and promote local manufacturing of generic medicines? Should LDCs seek a further extension of the transition period for pharmaceutical products beyond 1 January 2016?

LDCs should request the TRIPS Council for a further extension of the transition period and make effective use of it. The transition period and its further extensions provide crucial policy space to LDCs to design their intellectual property laws below the substantive requirements of the TRIPS Agreement. LDCs need policy space and flexibility to address their development challenges and to create a viable technological base. Excluding pharmaceutical products from patent protection is an important policy for an LDC to improve the health prospects of its population and to develop or sustain local production of medicines for domestic use and export. Moreover, considering the moral imperative behind a request for an extension of the transition period for pharmaceutical products, LDCs should seek extension of the transition period after 1 July 2021 for as long as the circumstances mentioned in Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement continue to prevail in LDCs.

Accordingly, WTO Members in recognizing the special needs of LDCs should agree to grant the extension without any conditions.

Analytical Note – Transition Period for LDCs


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