Reaching A Crossroad

Arundhathi reports on the WTO

After a day of discussion on enforcement of IPR and the barriers on its implementation, the debate was directed to–‘The patents with special emphasis on pharmaceuticals’. Pakistan highlighted the fact that the least developed countries (LDC) like Gambia are affected with epidemics like HIV-AIDS, putting millions of life at risk. Hence the priority of these countries should be shifted towards the development of the pharmaceuticals. For which the IPR policies must be formulated such that the patent must be limited to the innovation or the end product of a particular idea and not on the idea itself. The ideas could be adopted by various other companies who could base their research on such ideas. Pakistan strongly believes that by patenting the very idea would reduce the probabilities of better outcomes from such ideas which would obviously have a huge impact on the country’s health and economy.

Russia carried on the discussion to two another aspects of pharmaceutical patents, namely ‘product patent’ and ‘process patent’ . Russia’s stand was that the majority of the countries have adopted the product patent which according to the Russian government slows down the innovation process. In product patents, as the name suggests, the final drug is patented and hence another company cannot introduce a drug of similar genetic makeup ,into the market. On the other hand by attaining a process patent, two different companies could produce the same drug using two different technologies or mechanism because it is the process that is being patented.

The countries got into the depths of the agenda by introducing the motion of –‘role of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the least developed countries.’ The Burundi government addressed the committee saying that the least developed countries like Burundi must enforce IPR to increase the flow of FDI and also added that the governments must recognize the specific sectors to which the FDI flow must be directed to.

This particular stand from Burundi stirred the pot. India and Russia immediately raised their voice against it. In India’s opinion, Burundi like countries that are ridden by poverty and malnutrition with a vast majority of its workforce incompetent with respect to technical or educational skills, FDI must be the least of its concerns. Russia supported India’s opinion and added that the LDC’s priority must lie in stabilizing themselves first, domestically.

The possible initiatives that could be taken by developed nations to help developing countries with respect to IPR implementation was discussed for which various countries put forward their inputs. India expressed its concern for LDC and asked the developing nations to ensure that the aids provided to them are actually reaching the mass and is not impeded by corruption. While Sweden asserted that the

LDC are in need of legal assistance for IPR more than anything else, Burundi strongly believes that the experience of developed nations is the biggest asset that could be shared with the less developed countries.

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