The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) requires all WTO Member countries to adapt their laws to the minimum standards set out in the Agreement, within established transitional periods. Conforming with the Agreement by recognizing or strengthening the protection of pharmaceutical products and processes by intellectual property rights (IPRs) has posed a special challenge for developing countries. The way in which the required legislative reform is made may have a significant impact on public health policies, and particularly on the population’s access to drugs.
This document presents options for the design and implementation of public-health-sensitive patent policies in developing countries. It examines approaches to selected issues in patent law that may help to strike a balance between the public and private interests involved in the protection of health-related inventions, including those of States, patients, and of the suppliers of health-related goods and services. This document has been prepared as part of an initiative aimed at exploring health-related aspects of intellectual property rights that may further the needs of the poor and excluded in developing countries. It is primarily addressed to policy makers and others concerned in the field of public health in developing countries.