Globalization and Access to Drugs. Perspectives on the WTO/TRIPS Agreement - Health Economics and Drugs Series, No. 007 (Revised)
(1998; 97 pages) [French] [Spanish] View the PDF document
Table of Contents
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentAbbreviations and acronyms
Close this folderPART I: GLOBALIZATION AND ACCESS TO DRUGS: IMPLICATIONS OF THE WTO/TRIPS AGREEMENT
View the documentExecutive summary
View the documentIntroduction
Open this folder and view contents1. Brief historical background to the international trading system
Close this folder2. Reading the TRIPS Agreement from the perspective of access to drugs
View the document2.1 General presentation of the Agreement
View the document2.2 Fundamental principles and objectives of the Agreement: the necessary balance between intellectual property and accessibility
View the document2.3 Patents for pharmaceutical products and processes available all over the world
View the document2.4 Non-patentable inventions: biotechnology inventions
Close this folder2.5 Effects of protection: a monopoly of working for 20 years
View the documentAttenuation of the monopoly through exhaustion of rights
View the documentStrengthening the monopoly through the patenting of processes
View the documentExtension of the duration of the monopoly
Open this folder and view contents2.6 Application of the TRIPS Agreement
Open this folder and view contents2.7 During the transitional period
Open this folder and view contents2.8 How can the monopoly be limited?
Open this folder and view contents3. Conclusions: issues at stake and constraints on access to drugs
View the documentDefinitions and terminology4
Open this folder and view contentsSelected bibliography5
Open this folder and view contentsPART II: PRESENTATIONS AT THE AD HOC WORKING GROUP ON THE REVISED DRUG STRATEGY HELD IN GENEVA ON 13 OCTOBER 1998
View the documentOther documents in the DAP - Health Economics and Drugs Series
View the documentBack cover
 
Extension of the duration of the monopoly

Pursuant to Article 33, the duration of protection offered will not cease until expiry of a period of 20 years from the date the patent application is filed.

This provision may result in an increase in the duration of the patent owner’s monopoly in many Member States where there is no therapeutic competition. In the pharmaceutical field, the logical consequence of this provision is that drugs will be sold at high prices, as is the case for all monopoly products, for a longer period of time, and manufacturers of generic products will have to wait longer before they can produce the drug in question and sell it at a more accessible price.

It is thus in regard to the length of protection that the Agreement will have one of its most important harmonizing effects. Unlike other provisions, which leave Member States a certain amount of room for manoeuvre, the Agreement is particularly strict and specific concerning the duration of patents.

In other words, the Agreement prohibits Member States from deciding on a special period of protection of less than 20 years depending on the field of technology, as was done by certain developing countries in the case of pharmaceutical products. The Agreement, indeed, imposes a minimum duration; but there is no provision in the Agreement that obliges Member States to issue patents for an even longer duration, as is the case in the United States and in Europe, especially for pharmaceutical products, to compensate for the length of time elapsing between the filing of a patent application and the effective marketing of the product.

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