TRIPS and the Primacy of Public Health
The 1984 Uruguay round of trade negotiations was criticized by many as discriminating against developing countries. On the issue of intellectual property, the contentious issue was that of the patent protection given to the drugs manufacturers, mostly based in developed countries. In this article, Shinzo Kobori, distinguished research fellow at the Institute for International Policy Studies, explores the issues surrounding the dilemma: the drugs need to be provided for many people in the developing world but, on the other hand, adequate compensation needs to be given to pharmaceutical companies producing the medicine. Focusing on pharmaceutical patents of anti-AIDS/HIV drugs, he examines the barriers to access to essential drugs in developing countries. Kobori goes on to scrutinize the various policy options including compulsory licensing and parallel imports, and describes the potential hurdles facing global drug companies in light of the challenges from Brazil, South Africa and the US.