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Narrative Review

Vol. 9 No. 2 (2006)

Scrutinized: The TRIPS Agreement and Public Health

  • Junaid Subhan
November 1, 2020


The World Trade Organization's (WTO's) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of 1994 seeks to implement a uniform set of intellectual property protection across member nations to provide greater stability in international economic relations. Critics argue that the TRIPS agreement provides unnecessarily strong protection of intellectual property rights which serves to prevent the ill in developing nations from having access to affordable essential medications. The first recommendation that this paper makes is to provide two sets of intellectual property protection, one that applies to essential medications such as AIDS drugs and certain antibiotics and another that applies to drugs that treat non-life threatening conditions. The second recommendation builds upon the first recommendation: if two sets of intellectual property protection legislation are enacted, patents on essential medications should be restricted to patents on processes rather than the product itself. The third recommendation seeks to amend the language of the TRIPS agreement to make it obligatory for member nations to implement provisions on compulsory licensing within their domestic legislation.


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