The Most Common Misunderstanding About Compulsory Licences

By Ellen ‘t Hoen, Global Health Unit Department of Health Sciences, UMCG Groningen, e.f.m.t.hoen@umcg.nl

The belief that a country can only use compulsory licensing in cases of public health emergencies is a myth that has proven difficult to bust.

Recently Jay Taylor, a lobbyist for Phrma, stated: “In certain instances, such as public health emergencies, trade partners may legally issue a compulsory license.” Mr Taylor references his statement with a link to the World Trade Organization’s fact sheet on compulsory licensing, which says:

Does there have to be an emergency? Not necessarily. This is a common misunderstanding. The TRIPS Agreement does not specifically list the reasons that might be used to justify compulsory licensing. However, the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health confirms that countries are free to determine the grounds for granting compulsory licences.

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Access to medicines amendment of the WTO TRIPS Agreement– hype or hope?

By Ellen ‘t Hoen, Global Health Unit Department of Health Sciences, UMCG Groningen, e.f.m.t.hoen@umcg.nl

On 30 January the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced the first ever amendment to the TRIPS Agreement under the headline WTO members welcome entry into force of amendment to ease access to medicines.

WTO members were celebrating and some media reported the announcement as a major breakthrough. Here is some sobering background to the announcement.

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