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Patents and Access to Antiretroviral Medicines in Vietnam after World Trade Organization Accession

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Abstract:

Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, where they are accessible, have been shown to prolong the lives and increase the health and well-being of people living with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. In general terms, whether a country is able to provide affordable ARVs to people in need is determined by the pricing structure of the drugs, which is in turn based on the patent environment that regulates them. Increasing access in many developing countries, including Vietnam, requires a thorough understanding of the patent environment and of the legal options that will allow the production and/or importation of affordable treatments. This article provides an analysis of current patent law in Vietnam with regard to the production and importation of pharmaceuticals. It then reviews the current situation of supply of ARVs with regard to pharmaceutical patents and Vietnam's obligations and practices against international agreements. The study concludes by suggesting options for utilizing current law to improve access to ARVs and makes recommendations for the implementation of Vietnamese patent law.

Keywords: ARV; Vietnam; access to medicines; patents

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1747-1796.2007.00321.x

Affiliations: University of Wollongong

Publication date: July 1, 2007

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