Unfettered Consumer Access to Affordable Therapies in the Post-TRIPS Era: A Dead-End Journey for Patients? Kenya and India Case Studies
Increasing access to essential medicines has become an international priority, given the rapid spread of intractable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. It follows that the quests to improve the global quality of healthcare and achieve health equity present a challenge for many countries, especially those that have been hard hit by deadly pandemics and whose populations are also still without essential drugs. Consequently, many countries have stepped up efforts to remove the obstacles to the availability and affordability of essential medicines. The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) contains flexibilities that can be used as tools for enhancing access to cheap medicines and for controlling drug pricing. However, these flexibilities are not necessarily a panacea and cannot singly solve the problem of limited access to essential medicines. Put differently, cheaper medicines cannot reach the poor without the infrastructure to deliver them. For this to become a reality, commitment on the part of the member countries to adopt comprehensive and cooperative measures to tackle the burdensome barriers that limit access to critical medicines is needed. It is only then that the flexibilities in TRIPS can be optimized and a real difference made in the lives of poor patients across the developing world.
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