Why The Request By Least Developed Countries For An Extension Of The Transitional Period For Granting And Enforcing Medicines Patents Needs To Be Supported

Ellen 't Hoen

On 24 February 2015 Bangladesh on behalf of the 34 Least Developed Country members (LDCs) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) submitted a request for an extension of the transitional period under article 66.1 TRIPS with respect to pharmaceutical products until the country is no longer classified as LDC.[1] The original extension, set to expire on 1st January 2016, specifically removes the obligation for LDCs to comply with Section 5 (Patents) and Section 7 (Protection of Undisclosed Information) of Part II of TRIPS, including any obligation to enforce rights under these provisions.

It is a little known fact that since the adoption of the 2001 Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, LDCs have frequently used the extension in day-to-day procurement of low cost generic medicines, in particular to access medicines needed for the treatment of HIV.

South Africa Awaits Patent Reforms With Hope, Concern

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CAPE TOWN – South Africa’s new policy on patents could go to the Cabinet for approval soon, says Doctors without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF), one of the organisations spearheading the Fix the Patent Laws campaign in the country.

Ebola Crisis Has Severe Impact On AIDS Response In Sierra Leone, UNDP Report Says

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According to an internal report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Fund Partnership team, the Ebola epidemic has virtually halted national HIV efforts in Sierra Leone. In particular, patients stopped their treatments and the supply chain was disrupted.

Tobacco Plain Packaging Discussion Lights Up Again At WTO

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The issue of plain packaging for tobacco products as a health measure has been smouldering at the World Trade Organization since Australia decided to implement legislation requiring plain packaging in 2012. Now, as more countries seek to enact similar legal provisions, some tobacco producing countries continue to try to stub them out, including at the WTO intellectual property committee.

WTO Least-Developed Countries Request Waiver Of IP Rights On Pharma Products

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This week at the World Trade Organization intellectual property committee meeting, least-developed countries submitted a request to extend a waiver allowing them not to enforce intellectual property rights on pharmaceutical products. The countries have extended the waiver before, but this time they are seeking to make it indefinite, until they are no longer considered LDCs.

New Quiet Initiative To Improve Drug Access In Middle-Income Countries, Change Country Classification System

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This week a confidential high-level expert meeting was convened in Geneva to start work on a potential change in the country classification used by global health actors to remedy the growing problem of access to medicines in middle-income countries.

Medicines Patent Pool Nails Down Another Key Paediatric Drug

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The Medicines Patent Pool today announced it has struck a licence with MSD, the North American-based Merck pharmaceutical company, to boost access to and innovation on raltegravir, a child-approved HIV medicine. The outcome is particularly significant because it opens options for very young children.

In 21st Century No One Should Die For Lack Of Access To Medicines, Participants At UN Forum Say

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Last week’s 2015 Social Forum led by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called for urgent action to facilitate access to medicines. In particular, the functioning of the intellectual property system was put into question. A number of recommendations were drawn by the secretariat after having been identified by participants.

TRIPS In Question During Social Forum Discussion On Access To Medicines

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Intellectual property rights are hindering access to medicines by maintaining monopolies and high prices, according to speakers at an annual United Nations forum on human rights last week. Flexibilities enshrined in the World Trade Organization intellectual property agreement are hampered by political and economical pressure, they said, and a new system should be devised for pharmaceutical products.

At WTO Next Week: GI Register, Plain Packaging, Women In Innovation

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The next meeting of the World Trade Organization intellectual property committee is expected to include discussions on women and innovation, and concerns about legislative efforts in the United Kingdom and Ireland to introduce plan packaging for tobacco products. Prior to the meeting, informal consultations will be held on the negotiating issue of an international register for geographical indications (GIs) for wines and spirits.