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Intellectual Property Rights Series no. 10

Patents, Compulsory Licences and Access to Medicines: Some Recent Experiences
By Martin Khor

Publisher: TWN (ISBN: 978-983-2729-19-8)

Year: 2007   No. of pages: 28

ABOUT THE BOOK

High prices of patent-protected medicines have become a major public health concern in developing countries, especially since the coming into force of the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s TRIPS Agreement, which sets stringent patent norms for WTO member states. Nevertheless, despite providing for the patenting of medicines, the TRIPS Agreement does allow certain exceptions and flexibilities which are in line with the public interest.

This paper examines the TRIPS-permitted flexibilities – compulsory licensing, government use and parallel importation – which developing countries can make use of to override drug patents and make available more affordable medicines.

Recent examples (from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Zimbabwe and Ghana) are provided of individual developing countries’ use of compulsory licences or government-use orders or other flexibilities to produce and import cheaper generic versions of patented drugs.

The author also cautions, however, that a new wave of bilateral “free trade agreements” (FTAs) between developed and developing countries effectively erode these flexibilities by imposing even stricter patent standards than those in the TRIPS Agreement. If left unchecked, the trend towards such “TRIPS-plus” FTAs threatens to undermine access to essential medicines by poor patients throughout the developing world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 MARTIN KHOR is the Director of the Third World Network. An economist trained in Cambridge University, he is the author of several books and articles on trade, development and environment issues.

Contents

1.      Background                                                                           

2.            National Public Health Measures that are TRIPS-Consistent  

         Importing the Drug

         Local Manufacture

         Export, Including to Countries with Inadequate Manufacturing Capacity

         Conclusion

        

3.      Use of TRIPS Flexibilities: Recent Experiences

         Malaysia

         Indonesia

         Thailand

         Zimbabwe

         Ghana

        

4.            Implications of Bilateral FTAs on Implementation of TRIPS Flexibilities Regarding Public Health

         Increasing Awareness of IPR Problems in Multilateral Context

         Dangers of Bilateral FTAs in Eroding TRIPS Flexibilities

         Thai Human Rights Commission Report

Appendix:

Some Recent Cases of Compulsory Licensing for AIDS Drugs

Bibliography

PRICE

US$8.00 for First World countries

US$6.00 for Third World countries

RM8.00 for Malaysia

Prices are inclusive of postage costs by airmail.

How to Order the Book

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Contact Third World Network at 131 Jalan Macalister, 10400 Penang, Malaysia.

Tel: 04-2266159

Fax: 604-2264505

Email us for further information

 


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