Keywords: Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, TRIPS compliance, Doha Declaration, 30th August Decision, sub-Saharan Africa, flexibilities, obstacles, public health, affordable medicines, affordable drugs, generic drugs
TRIPS compliance and public health: opportunities and obstacles for African countries
We examine the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement compliance in countries in sub-Saharan Africa and access to quality and affordable medicines. The article identifies the flexibilities provided by the TRIPS Agreement, the Doha Declaration, and the 30th August Decision that could be relied upon by these countries in ensuring a balance between covering the cost of, and ensuring the sustainability of research and development into, new medicines on the one hand, and the availability of affordable quality medicines on the other. It has been observed that most countries of the region are unable to take advantage of the benefits TRIPS flexibilities offer. Even where the necessary local legislation has been made TRIPS-compliant, other obstacles impede the actualisation of such compliance-related benefits, which either do not make these flexibilities adequate and attractive for governments or fail to result in an appreciable improvement in accessing patented medicines at affordable prices.