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6 November 2015Africa

WTO confirms 17-year extension to LDC patent waiver

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has granted permission for the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to be exempt from administering and enforcing patents directed to pharmaceutical drugs.

The announcement came today, November 6, following the conclusion of the WTO’s TRIPS-related council meeting in Geneva.

Parties had been negotiating an extension to the waiver over the last couple of weeks.

Currently, countries categorised as LDCs by the UN, of which there are 48, are exempt from enforcing pharma products as mandated under the 1993 TRIPS agreement. The waiver was due to come to an end on January 1, 2016.

The LDCs, led by representatives from Uganda, had requested a permanent waiver for countries for as long as they are classified as LDCs. The US, however, opposed this measure and initially put forward a 10-year extension.

But the final agreement concluded today means that LDCs have until 2033 before they may be required to introduce a legislative framework to administer and enforce pharma patents.

A group of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including Public Citizen, Health Global Access Project and Knowledge Ecology International, have criticised the final agreement and have called for a permanent waiver for LDCs.

“The LDCs’ request for a pharma transition period until a country ceases to be an LDC, has received almost universal unequivocal support from civil society globally, international and  UN agencies and the EU with no declared opposition from the WTO members except for the US,” the NGOs said in a joint statement.

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4 November 2015   The World Trade Organization is expected to announce a 17-year extension to an agreement that exempts the world’s Least Developed Countries from a duty to grant patents covering pharmaceutical drugs, an activist group has claimed.
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20 October 2015   US President Barack Obama has been urged by several non-government organisations to permanently exempt the world’s least developed countries from having to grant patents for pharmaceutical products.

More on this story

Big Pharma
4 November 2015   The World Trade Organization is expected to announce a 17-year extension to an agreement that exempts the world’s Least Developed Countries from a duty to grant patents covering pharmaceutical drugs, an activist group has claimed.
Americas
20 October 2015   US President Barack Obama has been urged by several non-government organisations to permanently exempt the world’s least developed countries from having to grant patents for pharmaceutical products.

More on this story

Big Pharma
4 November 2015   The World Trade Organization is expected to announce a 17-year extension to an agreement that exempts the world’s Least Developed Countries from a duty to grant patents covering pharmaceutical drugs, an activist group has claimed.
Americas
20 October 2015   US President Barack Obama has been urged by several non-government organisations to permanently exempt the world’s least developed countries from having to grant patents for pharmaceutical products.