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20 October 2015Americas

NGOs urge Obama to change stance on LDCs patent waiver

US President Barack Obama has been urged by several non-government organisations (NGOs) to permanently exempt the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) from having to grant patents for pharmaceutical products.

Last week, the World Trade Organization (WTO) discussed a proposal from a group of LDCs to free them from the requirement to enforce pharma patents as mandated under the 1994 TRIPS agreement.

Oxfam, Health Gap, Public Citizen and the Union for Affordable Cancer Treatment were some of the NGOs demanding the US to change its opposition.

Nations defined as LDCs by the UN are currently not obliged to grant patents for drugs under a provision that was agreed by the WTO in 2013. The waiver lasts until January 1, 2016.

Currently there are  48 countries classified as LDC including Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia and Yemen.

The LDCs had requested that the temporary waiver should be made permanent for any countries that remained categorised as such.

The European Commission supports the waiver becoming permanent, but the US has opposed it.

But Obama has been urged to change his position on opposing the motion by a group of NGOs.

The NGOs state the US’s opposition “is simply unconscionable and indefensible in the face of the public health and other developmental challenges facing the LDCs.”

The letter, dated October 19, said: “The position of the US on this matter is egregious. The LDC markets are of no significant financial value.

“Moreover, the US is an important donor and member of the international community that is active in various LDCs in supporting HIV treatment programs as well as initiatives such as the Global Fund; hence the US administration is a major beneficiary of the LDCs’ request,” the letter added.

The NGOs argue that providing a framework for such protection is an additional burden on the poorest countries in the world, which often suffer enormous health burdens, such as the Ebola crisis which affected a number of LDCs.

Other signatories to the letter include Knowledge Ecology International and Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network.

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More on this story

Americas
30 September 2015   A US presidential hopeful for the Democratic Party has urged the US to support a request that would permanently free poor countries from their responsibility to grant patent protection for drugs.
Africa
6 November 2015   The World Trade Organization has granted permission for the world’s Least Developed Countries to be exempt from administering and enforcing patents directed to pharmaceutical drugs.

More on this story

Americas
30 September 2015   A US presidential hopeful for the Democratic Party has urged the US to support a request that would permanently free poor countries from their responsibility to grant patent protection for drugs.
Africa
6 November 2015   The World Trade Organization has granted permission for the world’s Least Developed Countries to be exempt from administering and enforcing patents directed to pharmaceutical drugs.

More on this story

Americas
30 September 2015   A US presidential hopeful for the Democratic Party has urged the US to support a request that would permanently free poor countries from their responsibility to grant patent protection for drugs.
Africa
6 November 2015   The World Trade Organization has granted permission for the world’s Least Developed Countries to be exempt from administering and enforcing patents directed to pharmaceutical drugs.