WTO drugs patent waiver for LDCs extended until 2033

On 6 November 2015, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Council decided to extend the exemption for LDC WTO members to implement provisions of the TRIPS agreement related to pharmaceutical products. The exemption will last for at least 17 years, until 2033, when the waiver will be discussed again. Least Developed Countries (LDCs) requested a permanent waiver exempting them from the obligation to implement the provisions until a country would graduate from the LDC category. This turned out to be “a bridge too far”.

The waiver, agreed upon in 2001 and about to expire at the end of the year, exempts LDCs from obligations under the TRIPS agreement related to patents or other intellectual property rights on pharmaceutical products and clinical data. This should enable the LDCs to buy and produce generic medicines that are a lot less expensive than the branded equivalent.

A related waiver, extending the implementation period for LDCs for the TRIPS agreement in general, was extended until 2022 during a Council meeting in 2013.

Sources:

  1. WTO members agree to extend drug patent exemption for poorest members, WTO website.
  2. WTO Decision on Least Developed Country (LDC) Drug Patent Waiver, don’t trade our lives away.