Commonwealth Trade Hot Topics

The Trade Hot Topics series provides concise and informative analyses of various trade and trade-related issues which are prepared both by Commonwealth Secretariat and international experts.


Access to Medicines

After Doha

At the WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar of November 2001, trade ministers had to consider how international standards of intellectual property should be adapted to help deal with public health crises and problems. The Doha Declaration affirmed what TRIPS already permitted, namely the right of states to issue compulsory licences. However, ministers were unable to finally settle the relationship between the compulsory licensing provision of TRIPS and access to medicines by developing countries that lacked manufacturing capacity. To this end, the Doha Declaration instructed the Council for TRIPS to find an expeditious solution to this problem and to report to the General Council before the end of 2002.

This issue of Trade Hot Topics gives a brief background of TRIPS and the structure of international pharmaceutical markets, and the options that have been put forward to resolve the problem of the Doha Declaration.


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