Intellectual Property in the WTO Volume I
Edited by Carlos M. Correa
Chapter 18: The Doha Declaration and Access to Medicines by Countries Without Manufacturing Capacity
S.K. Verma 1. Introduction Ever since the Agreement on Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) came into force on 1 January 1995, it has not steered clear of controversies, which have become more frequent in the last few years. Developing countries and certain groups within the industrialized nations have argued that the rules needed reform. The Agreement, which sets out detailed international law on patent rights, has been criticized for making medicines and other essential products unnecessarily expensive in poor countries, thereby undermining the public health priorities and national development goals of these countries. Accessibility to essential drugs was an issue at the time of negotiation of the TRIPS Agreement as well. However, the access to patented medicines debate is part of a larger debate relating to the value of the entire intellectual property regime. The debate had commenced in the early stages of negotiation of the TRIPS Agreement. Its opponents treated it with concern, suspicion and scepticism; others approached it with anticipation and optimism. Opponents claimed that developing countries do not reap equal benefits from the regime and that they are harmed by the stringent system of intellectual property protection that is embodied in the TRIPS Agreement and the subsequent bilateral agreements comprising TRIPS-plus provisions.1 In this endeavour, developing countries are viewed as consumers rather than partners, which is evident in the case of the big pharmaceutical corporations.2 1 Lee G. Branstetter, ‘Do Stronger Patents Induce More Local Innovation?’, in Keith E. Maskus & Jerome H. Reichman (eds), International Public...
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