ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Maturer WTO

The biggest gain for India from the fourth ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation that concluded at Doha on November 14 is that a fresh round of trade negotiations has been kicked off. It is also to India’s advantage that the Doha meet has incorporated into the WTO agenda several concerns of developing countries and by doing so promises to take the process of globalisation and global integration ahead. India played a proactive role in the negotiations. Although it could be argued that trade minister Maran and his team displayed more vigour in pushing what have come to be identified as India’s national postures than in correctly identifying what indeed are our national interests, there is no gainsaying that India played an important role in securing a major achievement of the summit – developing country assertion of their interests.

Patents Bill, TRIPs and Right to Health

South Africa and Brazil have both successfully adopted provisions in their respective patents legislations that indicate that there is scope for flexibility in TRIPs implementation. India too needs to redraft its Patents (Second Amendment) Bill in a way that takes into account more fully the needs of the people, especially their right to health and access to drugs.

TRIPS and India's Pharmaceuticals Industry

Major changes can be expected in the Indian pharmaceuticals industry from 2005 due to the agreement on TRIPS, under which India will be required to introduce product patents for pharmaceutical products. This will likely lead to sharp increases in the prices of newly patented drugs. Although the TRIPS agreement may also lead to increased research on diseases common in developing countries, these benefits can be obtained in alternative ways, and without high costs. Thus, the TRIPS agreement is not in the national interest and should be renegotiated.

TRIPS Review: Basic Rights Must Be Restored

There is broad consensus that TRIPS in its present form is unacceptable because it violates the fundamental rights of people. Civil society organisations across the world are mobilising opinion to intervene in the TRIPS review process. What are the changes must be negotiated during the current review of TRIPS?

Drug Patents and Public Health

About three years ago the South African government, in an attempt to modernise an old legislation and to cope with the growing need for drugs to treat AIDS patients, amended the South African Medicines Act 1965 so that it could import the anti-retroviral drugs at the best price. At that time the price of these drugs in South Africa was among the highest in the world. The enactment of the amendment, expectedly, met with little approval from the international drug companies which had so far been the sole suppliers of the drug. The amendment, especially section 15 C, drew an uproar from the pharmaceutical industry. The industry saw in the legislation a challenge to the intellectual property rights afforded by the TRIPS agreement and roundly accused South Africa of violating its provisions. In the last two weeks several developments stemming from South Africa’s attempts to modernise its drug laws and provide health care to a growing patient population have thrown the pharmaceutical industry worldwide into turmoil, confronting it with need to take cognisance of humanitarian needs.


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