In August 2003, the World Trade Organization (WTO) reached an agreement on the use of compulsory licenses by developing countries without manufacturing capacity to access life-sustaining medicines. This agreement was incorporated as an amendment to Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement on the eve of the Hong Kong Ministerial in December 2005. The issue of access to affordable medicines is one of great concern to developing countries whose health-care systems are often overwhelmed by HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. Some developing countries have viewed the TRIPS agreement as an impediment in their attempts to combat such public health emergencies by restricting drug availability and by transferring scarce resources from developing countries to developed country manufacturers. For the developing world, the issue of compulsory licenses is an important test as to whether the WTO can meet the development needs of its members, and conversely, whether the developing world can influence the actions of the world trading system.
"Updated January 4, 2007." Cover title taken from PDF title screen (viewed November 5, 2007).
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