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Pharmaceuticals in the Trade Related Aspects of the Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement of the World Trade Organization - A Briefing on Trips
(2000; 20 pages)
Equitable and appropriate health care is universally considered as a basic human right, and pharmaceuticals are an integral part of the modern health care system. Essential medicines save human lives and reduce suffering. Access to essential drugs is, therefore, a critical part of this fundamental human right. Essential drugs are not ordinary commodities. Every effort should be aimed at improving access to essential medicines for those who need them. With the current globalization of trade, access to drugs becomes a critical issue, which needs particular attention. Member States of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have to abide by several multilateral agreements, of which Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement probably has the greatest effect on access to medicines. TRIPS Agreement deals with patent law and sets some minimum standards, such as 20-year patent protection for pharmaceuticals. In certain instances, such as a public health emergency, TRIPS also allows for the production of medicines by companies other than the patent holder (compulsory licensing). TRIPS Agreement allows for the importation of medicines from countries where the product was legitimately put on the market (parallel imports). Policy makers, healthcare managers and other relevant stakeholders in the delivery of healthcare services and goods need knowledge about WTO and the TRIPS Agreement and its possible implications on health and access to medicines. Necessary measures need to be undertaken at the country level to minimize the negative impacts and to best utilize this Agreement. One of the important measures is to monitor the impact of this Agreement on health and access to essential medicines. The aim of this booklet is to inform people in the health sector about WTO, the TRIPS Agreement and the Agreement’s possible impacts on access to medicines. Most of the information in this booklet is abstracted from the WHO/EDM publication (WHO/DAP/98.9)
Table of Contents
View the documentPreface
View the documentIntroduction
View the document1. What is WTO and what is the TRIPS Agreement?
View the document2. What are the implications of the TRIPS Agreement on patents for pharmaceutical products?
View the document3. How long are patented drugs protected by the TRIPS Agreement?
View the document4. Does the TRIPS Agreement strengthen the monopoly patenting of processes?
View the document5. What are the impacts of the TRIPS Agreement on prices and availability of pharmaceutical products?
View the document6. What can Member States do to counteract the impact of TRIPS on drug prices?
View the document7. The balance between the protection of intellectual property rights and public policy objectives
View the document8. When will the TRIPS Agreement be applied?
View the document9. What is WHO’s view and position on WTO/TRIPS Agreement?
View the document10. What are the recommendations for Member States?

Pharmaceuticals in the Trade Related Aspects of the Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement of the World Trade Organization - A Briefing on Trips

Regional Office for the Western Pacific
August 2000

World Health Organization 2000

This document is issued by the World Health Organization - Regional Office for the Western Pacific (WHO/WPRO) for general distribution. All rights are reserved. Subject to due acknowledgement to WHO/WPRO, this document may, however, be freely reviewed, abstracted, reproduced or translated, in part or in whole, provided that such is not done for or in conjunction with commercial purposes and provided that, if it is intended to translate or reproduce the entire work, or substantial portions thereof, prior application is made to the Publications Unit, WHO/WPRO, Manila, Philippines.


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