[Ip-health] Access to affordable medicines for world's poorest countries under threat: MSF

Joanna Keenan joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Mon Oct 12 07:01:14 PDT 2015

*Access to affordable generic medicines for world’s poorest countries under


Starting Thursday, 15 October, the Member States of the World Trade
Organization will be considering a request by the world's poorest countries
to be  exempted from implementing medicine patents for as long as they are
classified as least-developed countries (LDCs). If this request is not
granted, access to affordable medicines for millions of people in these
countries could be negatively impacted.

While the European Union has come out supporting the LDCs’ request, other
wealthy countries, including the United States, Australia, and Canada, are
looking to weaken any exemption and are placing pressure on LDCs to accept
a deal where they'd be worse off. Information has emerged that US
Ambassador to the World Trade Organization, Michael Punke, met 15
Ambassadors from LDCs last Friday in Geneva, where he noted that the US
could not agree to an indefinite exemption due to pressure from some US
stakeholders who are upset with the US government’s intellectual property
concessions on the recently-completed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade

"We work in over half of the world's countries that are classified as
least-developed, and our medical teams know all too well the impact of
medicines and vaccines being priced out of reach", said Rohit Malpani,
Director of Policy and Analysis at Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign.
"If the world’s poorest countries are forced to introduce patents on
medicines prematurely, prices on life-saving drugs will rise and millions
of people will be treading the fine line between staying alive and dying."

Least-developed countries are currently exempted from having to implement
patents on medicines and vaccines, allowing them to freely import
affordable generics as well as produce medicines locally. However, the
current exemption on medicines for LDCs expires next year.

Bangladesh, on behalf of all LDCs, has asked for an exemption to be granted
for as long as LDCs are classified as such, but some of the world's
wealthiest countries do not support this.

"We need the US, Australia, and Canada, to do the right thing and grant the
world's poorest countries an exemption from needing to grant medicine
patents for as long as a country is classified as least-developed. We're
encouraged to see the EU supporting the LDCs' request and urge the US and
other less supportive countries to follow suit."

Find a briefing document for more in-depth information here:

Kind regards

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: @joanna_keenan


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