(Catherine Saez – Intellectual Property Watch)
This week at the World Trade Organization intellectual property committee meeting, least-developed countries submitted a request to extend a waiver allowing them not to enforce intellectual property rights on pharmaceutical products. The countries have extended the waiver before, but this time they are seeking to make it indefinite, until they are no longer considered LDCs.
Least-developed countries are disproportionately exposed to the health risks associated with poverty, and “patent protection contributes to high costs, placing many critical treatments outside the reach of LDCs,” said a communication by the group, proposing to extend the current waiver to intellectual property rights enforcement past the deadline of 2016.
In June 2013, a general waiver exempting LDCs from the obligation to enforce IP rights was extended to 2021 (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 2 August 2013). This extension covers all products, including pharmaceutical products, and has been running in parallel with the special waiver on pharmaceutical products granted to LDCs until 2016. Click here to read more.