Book by the South Centre, 2006
THE USE OF FLEXIBILITIES IN TRIPS BY DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: Can they Promote Access to Medicines?
This study was commissioned to: (1) examine the extent to which the flexibilities contained in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) have been incorporated into the legislation of developing countries and the extent of the actual use for public health purposes; (2) review the stated trade policies of major industrialized countries, particularly the United States and the European Union , vis-à-vis developing countries, to determine whether they take adequate account of the public health priorities of developing countries; and (3) examine the practical effect and implications of recently concluded bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTAs) for public health protection in developing countries. The study has been compiled based on existing literature and other available evidence.
Overall, the study finds that the use of TRIPS flexibilities can promote access to medicines in developing countries. Most developing countries whose laws and practices we reviewed had incorporated one or more of the TRIPS flexibilities and there has been increasing usage of these flexibilities such as compulsory licensing for public health purposes. However, there remain important gaps both in terms of incorporation and usage of flexibilities, which will need to be addressed if the TRIPS flexibilities are to be used effectively across the developing world.
With respect to the stated trade policies of the United States and the EU relating to the protection of intellectual property in third countries, especially developing countries, we find that although some concern for the public health needs of developing countries is reflected, in general, the policies fail to adequately take into account the public health priorities of developing country trading partners.
Finally, with respect to FTAs, we find that a number of provisions in recently concluded FTAs between developed countries (essentially the United States) and developing countries, pose a real risk of undermining the effective use of TRIPS flexibilities in developing countries for public health purposes.
This article was tagged: Access to Medicines, Flexibilities, Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), Health, Intellectual Property, Patent, Public Health, TRIPS, TRIPS Agreement, TRIPS Flexibilities