Intellectual property rights and traditional medicine from a developing country’s perspective
Dr. F.R.Y. Fazli of Pakistan presented this paper.
Developing countries are faced with the challenges of poverty and disease in their efforts to provide health care to the majority of their population. Traditional medicines help to fill the gaps in modern health care and therefore are of great importance to them. While considering the protection of intellectual property rights of traditional medicine, the obligations and implications of TRIPS/WTO must be taken into account. Past experience of intellectual property rights protection of pharmaceuticals indicates that it has made access by people difficult, while TRIPS lays down conditions which are likely to make access even more difficult. Although complying with the TRIPS obligations, national laws may exclude traditional medicine and natural materials from patent protection as allowed for within the framework of TRIPS. However, separate legislative measures or a system including a sui generis system may be considered for intellectual property rights protection of traditional medicine and traditional knowledge as well as to stop biopiracy. WHO can provide invaluable help in this direction.