Pharmaceutical sector is marked by two main attributes: its inmmense concentration, and the important role played by intellectual property rights (IPRs). These atributes remain mostly concentrated in developed countries. Regarding their concentration, the World Health Organization, in the late 1990s, showed that 92.9 of world pharmaceutical production was located in high- income countries. Concerning IPRs, pharmaceutical originator firms have relied on patents, in order to contend the high cost of research and development for new medicines. According to the statistics of the World Intellectual Property Organization, more than 80 percent of pharmaceutical, pharmo- chemical, and biotechnological patent applications recorded in the period 1995- 2006 originated from just six countries (United States of America, Japan, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Switzerland). The inclusion of IPRs clauses into the free trade agreements has impeded the entrance of generic medicines into developing countries to treat diseases, such as cancer, AIDS, or tuberculosis. These clauses have obliged developing countries to buy originator firms their branded medicines, restricting health public budgets.
In this panel, we will explore different issues regarding access to medicines related with TRIPS clauses, such as the role of developing countries, such as India, who has used compulsory licenses to guarantee the production of generic medicines; or the role of NGOs (e.g, Doctors without Borders).