The globalization of intellectual property protection on medical products
changes how developing country health authorities and procurement
bodies make their decisions with respect to purchasing medicines. Whereas
previously the decision to procure more cost-effective generic versions of
medicines may not have required the consideration of intellectual property
protection, that is no longer the case.
Under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property
(TRIPS), Member States of the World Trade Organization (WTO) with
developing country status were required to start examining patent applications
and providing patent protection on medicines either by 1 January 2000 or by
1 January 2005. Many developing countries implemented patent protection
on medicines much earlier than the required deadline. Today, patents on
medicines are being granted in developing countries, and medicines under
patent are entering the market.
This change in the patent laws of developing countries now requires
local health authorities and procurement bodies to establish in advance of
purchasing decisions whether patent(s) on a particular medicine have been
filed, granted, lapsed or expired. Having such information in hand can help
to decide whether more cost-effective medicines can be procured from
alternative sources without the risk of patent infringement...The purpose of
this guide is to provide a starting point for health
authorities, procurement bodies and others to identify whether patents
relating to a pharmaceutical product exist in the country of interest...