E-drug: Important new WHO Publication on TRIPS
[Thanks Ellen. As more and more people become interested in this
issue we are often called on to explain what it means. (TRIPS
=Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights). BS]
Greetings from South Africa!
I would like to draw your attention to a very timely and useful new
WHO publication titled: "Globalisation, TRIPS and access to
pharmaceuticals". It is one in the series of WHO policy perspectives
on Medicines, no. 3 march 2001.
The 5 page document gives a clear summary of the TRIPS requirements
and gives policy recommendations for health protection for policy
makers to take into account when revising patent laws.
It clearly states that parallel import is not prohibited by the TRIPS,
an issue contested by the 39 drug companies that are suing the South
African government at this very moment.
I copy here the bullet list of "Points for policy-makers" from the
To obtain the entire document visit the WHO Website:
Box 1. Points for policy-makers?
- TRIPS establishes intellectual property standards for WTO Members,
historically based on the standards of developed countries.?
- TRIPS requires patent protection for all products and processes,
with a minimum duration of 20 years from the original date of filing,
without any special consideration for pharmaceuticals.?
- The TRIPS Agreement permits Members some discretion in enacting
and amending their laws and regulations, which can help promote public
- When establishing standards of patentability for pharmaceuticals
countries should consider the implications for health of those
standards. Standards which are too broad may lead to inappropriate
extension of patent life beyond the period required by TRIPS. ?
- WTO free trade provisions can stimulate generic competition and
reduce the prices for off-patent drugs, but TRIPS may also
significantly delay the introduction of new generic drugs, depending
on the way national legislation is designed and implemented.?
- Developing countries should be cautious about enacting legislation
more stringent than the TRIPS requirements ("TRIPS-plus").
Ellen 't Hoen
MSF Access to Essential Medicines campaign
8, rue Saint Sabin
75544 Pariws cedex 11
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