Developing a Methodology to Assess the Implementation of TRIPS-Plus Provisions Affecting Drug Prices

WHO, World Bank Institute and ICTSD
Geneva, Switzerland, 31 July- 1 August 2006

Description |Agenda| Participants| Documents

Place: International Environmental House II, Geneva
Monday-Tuesday from 8:30 to 18:30


Over the past few years, a number of developing countries have concluded free trade agreements (FTAs), many of which include intellectual property rights (IPRs) obligations that go beyond the standards found in the WTO's Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). These so-called TRIPS-plus provisions have been criticized on several grounds, including the potential impact of extended IP provision in the field of public health. Developing country FTA signatories usually have defensive negotiating interests on intellectual property. Nevertheless, there is a willingness to agree to stronger intellectual property rules as a quid pro quo for concessions in other areas-most notably, preferential access to developed countries' markets for agricultural and manufactured products. Whether or not this bargain holds is an empirical question.

A small number of studies have so far attempted to empirically assess the effects of TRIPS-plus standards for pharmaceutical products in developing countries. (e.g., assessments undertaken in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Thailand). While they have provided some input on how to measure the impact of TRIPS plus provisions, their methodologies are diverse and the respective experiences remain within the institutions that engaged in the original exercises. As more developing countries are in the process of negotiating agreements with TRIPS-plus provisions, it would appear that the development of an appropriate and sound methodology would offer much-needed inputs to the decision-making process linked to the negotiation and implementation of obligations under FTAs. It is also envisaged that civil society organizations and other public interest groups may find an impact assessment methodology of use in their work.

The expert meeting aims at developing a methodology to assess national TRIPS-plus standards, as they affect pharmaceutical products. The main objective is to develop a common methodology framework that could offer guidance to governments (e.g., trade and health ministries), research institutes as well as civil society organizations, in empirically evaluating the effects of FTA-induced changes in IPRs laws. Once the methodology is developed, the methodology will be tested it in a selected number of countries in close collaboration with local researchers, governments and relevant stakeholders. Based on the findings of this first set of country studies, the methodology will be further refined. The outcomes of the whole process will then be synthesized in a final report and disseminated widely.

This initial meeting will be crucial in this process. It will be a small expert meeting in which the different country experts will present the methodology used in their attempt to measure the TRIPS-plus obligations in recent FTAs. In addition, the meeting will bring together experienced economists, lawyers and pharmaceutical experts to carefully evaluate the feasibility and credibility of different methodological approaches.

© ICTSD 2004 - Last Update: 05-Oct-2009