Public health-oriented intellectual property and trade policies in Africa and the regional mechanism under Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights amendment.


School of Law, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Electronic address: [Email]


OBJECTIVE : The short communication is prompted by the debate relating to the effect of pharmaceutical patents on access to affordable medicines, particularly in Africa. A recent amendment made to the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement creates a policy space for the regional alliance of low-income countries for the collective procurement and local production of drugs under compulsory licensing. This article examines the extent to which the regional mechanism can deliver access to pharmaceuticals. The article examines the regional mechanism in the light of the recent regional trade agreements and pharmaceutical plans of some regional economic blocs in Africa as well as the newly signed African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
METHODS : This short communication adopts a descriptive approach in linking the regional mechanism in the TRIPS amendment to the regional trade agreements of African countries at the subregional and continental levels.
METHODS : To ascertain the extent to which TRIPS Agreements regional model can deliver access to medicines in Africa, the article adopts a desk review approach by examining the relevant provisions of TRIPS Agreement, particularly the newly added Article 31bis, and the provisions of the relevant regional and continental free trade agreements in Africa.
RESULTS : The article finds that although the regional model has great prospects in supporting the wider effort to deliver access to medicine, the limitations to its operative utilization may weaken its potency in addressing the urgent public health needs of the continent.
CONCLUSIONS : The article concludes by stressing the inevitability of Africa's integration in tackling the deficiency of access to generic medicines in Africa. It was noted that even though there could be some potential challenges, the regional mechanism is indeed the way to go for low-income countries.


Access to medicines,Public health,Regional mechanism,TRIPS agreement,