[Ip-health] MSF responds to TRIPS exclusion extension for least-developed countries

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Tue Jun 11 06:17:29 PDT 2013

MSF responds to TRIPS exclusion extension for least-developed countries


Ahead of a transition period that allows LDCs to avoid introducing some IP
rules expiring this month, LDC members of the WTO requested an extension
that would enable them to remain exempt from implementing nearly all
provisions of the TRIPS agreement, including for pharmaceutical products,
until they are no longer classified as ‘least-developed’.

In the face of opposition led by the United States and EU, a compromise was
developed. WTO members agreed to extend the deadline by eight more years,
until 1 July 2021. This outcome allows LDCs to access more affordable
medical technologies such as diagnostics and medical devices for a few more
years. Critically, LDCs are also in a position to roll-back existing level
of IP protection to meet domestic policy objectives.

However, this compromise does not address the looming 2016 deadline of a
second transition period, which exempts LDCs from implementing stringent IP
regulations for pharmaceutical products. Withdrawal of pharmaceutical
products from the extension agreement is a significant lost opportunity and
LDCs will now be required to ask for a similar extension request in 2015.
Given the crucial importance of pharmaceutical products, LDCs should insist
on an unconditional extension, which should last as long as a WTO member is
classified as ‘least developed’.

*"We welcome the effort least-developed countries have made in trying to
get a more comprehensive extension, but today's decision is somewhat of a
half-hearted compromise. *

* *

*While we’re satisfied LDCs will be exempt from introducing the
developed-country level intellectual property standards found in the TRIPS
Agreement for another eight years, it’s clear that wealthy countries are
ignoring the huge health challenges LDCs face by refusing to grant them a
longer and more complete extension. In the meantime, LDCs should take
advantage of this decision and roll back their existing level of IP

* *

*Médecins Sans Frontières is increasingly seeing ever more unaffordable and
inaccessible medicines in developing countries that have implemented the
TRIPS Agreement and for least-developed countries to be forced to do the
same in 2016 would be disastrous.  Developed countries must drop their hard
line mentality and allow LDCs to remain exempt from introducing stringent
IP regulations on pharmaceutical products for as long as they are

* *

*- Aziz ur Rehman, Intellectual Property Advisor, Médecins Sans Frontières
Access Campaign.*


*Joanna Keenan*
Press Officer
Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign
P: +41 22 849 87 45
M: +41 79 203 13 02
E: joanna.keenan[at]geneva.msf.org
T: twitter.com/joanna_keenan


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