Draft Agreement Seeks to Exempt Poorest Countries from Patent Rules
Some of the world’s poorest nations could be exempt from upholding pharmaceutical patents for the next 17 years, under a draft agreement that will come before the World Trade Organization.
The agreement, struck Oct. 29-30, is intended to shield the 48 poorest nations — most in Africa and Asia — from WTO rules governing enforcement of intellectual property rights for pharmaceutical companies. Many of these nations lack the resources to pay for patented drugs, much less enforce those patents.
The deal is expected to be ratified before the current exemption for least-developed nations expires, which is anticipated to be Dec. 30. PhRMA said the proposal is a “good outcome for all parties.”
The deal will be introduced at a meeting of the WTO’s Council of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights on Nov. 6.
The deal is a far cry from what the least-developed countries requested last February. Under that proposal, which was rejected by U.S. trade officials, least-developed countries would enjoy a permanent exclusion from patent observation.