Thailand National Technical Consultation on Free Trade Agreements and Intellectual Property Rights: Implications for Access to Medicines

08 Dec 2005
TRIPS

Summary

The right of countries to protect public health is recognized by the World Trade Organization (WTO) patent rules – known as Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) – and was further reinforced at the 4th Ministerial Meeting in Doha in November 2001 when the WTO members agreed to a Ministerial Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, which became known as the Doha Declaration:


“We agree that the TRIPS Agreement does not and should not prevent members from taking measures to protect public health. Accordingly, while reiterating our commitment to the TRIPS Agreement,we affirm that the Agreement can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO Members’ right to protect public health, and in particular, to promote access to medicines for all”. (Paragraph 4, Doha Declaration, 2001)


This declaration was an important victory for developing countries and for poor people around the world in need of affordable life-saving medicines. It further reinforced the recognition that WTO patent rules may lead to higher drug prices, placing medicines out of reach of those who need them, and undermining
public health in developing countries. The WTO members thus renewed their commitment to allow necessary flexibilities in the implementation of the TRIPS agreement so as to ensure access to medicines at an affordable cost by permitting countries, when necessary, to produce or import less expensive generic versions of essential drugs.


However, the ability to use the flexibilities agreed in the Doha Declaration is now being compromised by provisions in regional and bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) that oblige developing countries to implement much stricter intellectual property rights, going well beyond the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement, and without the flexibilities needed to ensure access to life-saving medicines.


To address TRIPS issues, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),Thailand; the Department of Disease Control (Ministry of Public Health), Thailand; Chulalongkorn University; the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); and the World Health Organization (WHO) jointly organized this workshop entitled ‘National Technical Consultation on TRIPS and Free Trade Agreements: Implication for Access to Medicines.

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Summary of discussions
  • Summary of recommendations
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