Global Diseases, Global Patents and Differential Treatment in WTO Law
As of January 1, 2005, all developing country members of the WTO are required to implement the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). We analyze the issue of access to patented medicine to treat global and neglected diseases in developing countries in the context of WTO law. We present legal and economic arguments that support balancing the rights of producers and users on a market-by- market basis and argue against taking a uniform approach globally. We conclude that global patent rights are not necessary to provide research incentives to pharmaceutical firms to invent treatments for global and neglected diseases. We develop an analytical framework for assessing special and differential treatment of developing countries in WTO law and apply this framework to TRIPS. We then propose a formula for assessing the correct balance between the rights of producers and users on a market-by-market basis.
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