v17_2006f - Analysis of International Patent Protection and...

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83 Analysis of International Patent Protection and Global Public Health 5 A NALYSIS OF I NTERNATIONAL P ATENT P ROTECTION AND G LOBAL P UBLIC H EALTH Victoria E. Hopkins The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Prop- erty Rights (TRIPS), governed by the World Trade Organiza- tion, provides for stringent patent protection in the name of intellectual property rights. This international agreement has elicited public health concerns in developing countries, wor- ried that they will be unable to access essential medicines as a result of increasing patented drug costs. This paper conF rms legitimate attempts to promote global public health and, more speciF cally, ready access to medicines through ‘± exibilities’ including compulsory licensing and parallel importation, outlined in TRIPS, and reafF rmed in the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health . However, it is determined that, in practice, barriers exist which erode or have the potential to erode the implementation of these ± exibilities in developing countries. These include a lack of local production capabilities and technological know-how, lack of economies of scale, needed legislative reform, and pressure from TRIPS-plus bi-lateral and regional agreements. Policy recommendations highlight the need for developing countries to cooperate on regional levels, developed countries to focus foreign aid strategies on building capacity, and for non-state institutions to create more proac- tive policies to assist implementation and information sharing amongst developing countries. Victoria E. Hopkins recently graduated with a Masters in International Affairs from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University (victoriahopkins@hotmail.com).
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84 Victoria E. Hopkins B ACKGROUND The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related As- pects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) was added under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) at the close of the 1994 Uruguay Round. TRIPS, an internationally binding agreement for all 149 signa- tory members of the WTO, provides a minimum standard of protection for intellectual property in the form of copyright, patents, geographical indicia, trade secrets, industrial designs, trademarks, and integrated circuit layouts (WTO 2005a). Interpreting the scope and application of speciF c policy ± exibilities laid out in the 1994 TRIPS Agreement intended to improve access to essential drugs in developing countires remained challenging to those countries wishing to excersise them. The Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, developed in November 2001 by WTO members, centers on the use of ± exibilities including compulsory licensing and parallel imports intended to prioritize global public health over commercial patent rights, and conF rms the rights that the members of the TRIPS Agreement hold.
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v17_2006f - Analysis of International Patent Protection and...

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