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Civil Society Appeals for an Extension on Standards for Intellectual Property Rights on Medicines

Uganda –Kampala —Civil society Organizations working on health and access to medicines have today appealed to His Excellence Ambassador Christopher Onyanga Aparr the Permanent Representative to the Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations in Geneva to lead Least developed County (LDC) members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), to act collectively to submit a duly motivated request to the Council on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) for an indefinite extension of the soon-to-lapse pharmaceutical transition period at the upcoming TRIPS Council meeting on 24th February, 2015.

According to a 2002 WTO TRIPS Council decision, member countries of the WTO considered to be least developed are exempted from enforcing patents and data protections on Pharmaceutical products for until 1st January 2016.

Intellectual properties such as patents raise the costs of medicines because patent holders can eliminate competition which would otherwise lead to cheaper prices. Global studies, including the MSF, Untangling the Web of Antiretroviral Prices routinely show that generic medicines are almost always priced lower than even the discounted prices drug companies sometimes offer to lower-income countries like Uganda.

In a letter dated 16th February, 2014 civil society groups recalled Article 66.1 of the TRIPS Agreement which provides to the effect that the Council for TRIPS “shall, upon duly motivated request by a least-developed country Member, accord extensions”.

In this appeal, the groups are of the view that the extension of the transition period be for as long as an LDC Member State remains a LDC, without conditions, and that it should further motivate waivers of Articles 70.8 and 70.9 to the General Council, also for as long as an LDC Member State remains an LDC. The detailed letter can be accessed here>>

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