Global Patent Rights in Pharmaceuticals: The Impact of the TRIPS Agreement on Access to Medicines

By Robert Langton.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) came into force in January 1995. An important aspect of the Agreement is that all countries who are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have committed themselves to provide patent protection for new medicines. This paper begins by outlining the main economic justification for establishing a system of patents. It then explains why prior to the TRIPS Agreement, many developing countries excluded pharmaceutical products from their patent systems. Next it sketches the background to the TRIPS Agreement and demonstrates the influential role played by the US pharmaceutical lobby. This influence is reflected in the extent to which pharmaceuticals are given a privileged position in the TRIPS Agreement. The paper then summarises the impact of the Agreement on the Australian pharmaceutical industry. Finally it highlights the way in which the Agreement is likely to undermine efforts in developing countries to respond to diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Keywords: Intellectual Property, Pharmaceutical Products, International Trade, World Trade Organisation, Developing Countries

Global Studies Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.25-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.138MB).

Dr. Robert Langton

Senior Lecturer in Commercial Law, School of Business, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


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