Commission calls for changes in drugs patent rules for developing countries

The EU has presented a proposal to the WTO concerning access to medicines for developing countries that do not have the capacity to produce them themselves.

On 5 March 2002, the WTO Council on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) met in Geneva. The EU presented its proposal as to how the patent agreement should be modified to support countries that cannot themselves produce the drugs. The EU suggests amendments to Articles 30 and 31f of the TRIPS agreement, to allow for medicines to be produced elsewhere and exported under “compulsory licensing” to the country in need. The export would need to be strictly controlled to ensure that the drugs do not reach other markets.


At the WTO negotiations in Doha in November 2001, an agreement was reached to ease patent rules to allow developing countries to produce patented drugs under a procedure called "compulsory licensing". This way countries struck by health crise such as HIV, are given access to affordable medicines. (see also EURACTIV13 November 2001)


The TRIPS Council must report to the WTO General Council before the end of 2002.


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