Book by the South Centre, 2004
UTILIZING TRIPS FLEXIBILITIES FOR PUBLIC HEALTH PROTECTION THROUGH SOUTH-SOUTH REGIONAL FRAMEWORKS
Despite the significant scientific and technological developments of the 20th century, there continue to exist unacceptable inequalities in the health status of people as between developed and developing countries as well as within developing countries. It is in this context that efforts have been underway over the last several years to make medical technology work better for developing countries and for poor people. A major component of these efforts has focused on the impact of the expansion of patent protection to pharmaceutical products and processes under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The initial challenge related to the scope and interpretation of the policy flexibilities embodied in the Agreement that could be used to improve availability and access to essential patented medicines. This challenge was resolved by the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health (the Doha Declaration), which affirmed that public health considerations can and should condition the extent to which patents on pharmaceuticals are enforced and that flexibilities in the TRIPS Agreement should be used to this end.
However, while developing countries have the right to exercise the flexibilities under the TRIPS Agreement, in reality it remains difficult for many of them to make effective use of these flexibilities as a public health policy tool. For example, paragraph six of the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and public health recognized that while developing countries can issue compulsory licences; they nevertheless faced difficulties in making effective use of this policy tool due to lack of or insufficient manufacturing capacity. This is, however, just one of the constraints that developing countries face at the national level in their efforts to use TRIPS flexibilities. Other constraints include: lack of technical expertise effectively to implement the TRIPS flexibilities; insufficient technical and infrastructural capacities for medicines regulations; bilateral and other pressures not to use the TRIPS flexibilities for public health purposes and/or to adopt TRIPS-plus standards; difficulties in regulating anti competitive practices and abuse of intellectual property rights; and difficulties in accessing pricing and patent status information. Many of these constraints can be addressed by adopting complimentary policy and legal measures at the regional level.
This article was tagged: Access to Medicines, Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, Flexibilities, Health, Intellectual Property, Patent, Public Health, South-South Cooperation, TRIPS, TRIPS Agreement, TRIPS Flexibilities