Dominica Accepts TRIPS Health Amendment; Two More To Go? 29/11/2016 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The government of Dominica has deposited its instrument of acceptance of the 2005 so-called “paragraph 6” amendment to international intellectual property trade rules aimed at making it easier for countries to export affordable medical products to developing countries. Dominica’s signing brings the number of signers to 65 percent of WTO members, according to the WTO. Two-thirds of WTO members must accept it for the amendment to go into effect, but it is unclear exactly how many members that represents. It appears that two or three more members will tip the scale. A street in the Dominica capital of Roseau. Will affordable medicines flow there? The amendment to the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is a waiver to a rule that limits medical products made under compulsory licence to be predominantly for the domestic market. WTO has been encouraging members to accept it, despite misgivings about the amendment by some academics, health advocates and the generic drug industry (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 14 November 2016). They argue that the waiver does not work and locking it in now would make it more difficult to find a solution that actually does work. According to the list of members accepting the amendment, with Dominica, 79 of 164 WTO members, plus the European Union, have accepted it. But it is a little unclear whether the EU counts as 28 or 29 members – even before the Brexit departure of the United Kingdom from the union. According to a former WTO spokesperson, the WTO counts the EU as 28 members plus itself for a total of 29 (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 14 April 2016). But the European Commission says the EU is only 28 total. Assuming conservatively that the EU is 28 members, plus the 79 other members, would bring the total to 107. That is consistent with the WTO’s calculation that Dominica’s acceptance brings the total to 65 percent of members. A calculation shows 67 percent (two-thirds) of 164 members to be either 109 or 110 members, which would mean there only needs to be 2 or 3 more members before it goes into effect. [Update:] The WTO considers that three more members are needed if EU members are agreed. According to WTO: “Note that the European Commission had 27 member states at the time of its deposit in 2007. Equating the European Commission’s instrument to 28 acceptances (i.e. EC plus 27) and provided the Membership is on the record as endorsing such a counting method, the Protocol will enter into force upon receipt of an additional 3 legally valid instruments of acceptance.” [end update] The full WTO press release is reprinted below: Dominica accepts TRIPS amendment to ease poor countries’ access to affordable medicines Dominica deposited its instrument of acceptance for the 2005 protocol amending the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on 28 November 2016. The protocol amending the TRIPS Agreement, which was agreed in 2005, is intended to formalize a decision to ease poorer WTO members’ access to affordable medicines. The protocol allows exporting countries to grant compulsory licences (one that is granted without the patent holder’s consent) to their generic suppliers to manufacture and export medicines to countries that cannot manufacture the needed medicines themselves. These licences were originally limited to predominantly supplying the domestic market. At the most recent meeting of the Council for TRIPS on 8-9 November, the Chairperson, Ambassador Modest Jonathan Mero of Tanzania, urged WTO members that have not yet accepted the amendment to do so expeditiously. He noted that his call echoes “the multiple efforts Director-General Azevêdo and my predecessors have made since last year to secure the entry into force of the protocol. The Director-General, in his contacts, regularly emphasizes that this is not only a priority for the WTO, but represents a concrete contribution that WTO members could make to global efforts to strengthen the legal framework for access to medicines.” With Dominica’s acceptance, over 65 per cent of WTO members have submitted their instruments of acceptance for the TRIPS protocol. The protocol will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO membership has formally accepted it. The up-to-date list and map of members that have accepted the protocol are available here. More information on the issue of TRIPS and public health is available here. Image Credits: Wikimedia Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related William New may be reached at email@example.com."Dominica Accepts TRIPS Health Amendment; Two More To Go?" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.