Patenting Drugs From 1st January 2005: Implications and Problems
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January the 1st 2005 is a very important deadline for the policy on patented drugs in developing countries: implementation of the agreement concerning paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration is going to be put into practice, with all its controversial organisational procedures. The 2001 Doha Declaration represented a step forward the acknowledgement for the importance of public health and the rights of WTO member states, under emergency conditions, to adopt all the necessary flexibilities of Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in order to protect public health. Among these flexibilities, compulsory license is the tool for overriding patents by producing generic versions of medicines, thus reducing the price of patented drugs too. But compulsory license is fully exploitable by those countries with pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, leaving the majority of Least-Developed Countries incapable to use it. The required procedures seem to be very complex and cumbersome and are likely to be practically unfeasible. The pharmaceutical industry proved very powerful in defending its interests from the emerging generic producers of developing countries. Meanwhile, the United States, in particular, is going to sign several bilateral commercial agreements including more stringent provisions for TRIPS than the international standards, which will reduce the spirit of Doha Declaration to a mere out of fashion commitment.
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