WTO IP rules amended to ease poor countries’ access to affordable medicines
World Trade Organisation
January 23, 2017
An amendment to the agreement on intellectual property entered into force today (23 January) securing for developing countries a legal pathway to access affordable medicines under WTO rules.
The amendment to the WTO Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement marks the first time since the organization opened its doors in 1995 that WTO accords have been amended.
The WTO Secretariat has received in recent days notifications from five members that they have ratified the protocol amending the WTO TRIPS Agreement. These notifications — from Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Liechtenstein, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam — brought to two-thirds the number of WTO members which have now ratified the amendment. The two-thirds threshold was needed to formally bring the amendment into the TRIPS Agreement.
Members took the decision to amend the TRIPS Agreement specifically to adapt the rules of the global trading system to the public health needs of people in poor countries. This action follows repeated calls from the multilateral system for acceptance of the amendment, most recently by the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS in June 2016.