Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Hofstra Law Review


TRIPS, pharmaceuticals


The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights ("TRIPS"), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ("GATT"), and the World Trade Organization ("WTO") debacle has radically altered the traditional ability of nations to adopt whatever patent regime seems appropriate to them. Instead, TRIPS requires all member nations, even those which never thought it appropriate to grant such state monopolies, to afford patent protection to areas which had never been granted before-most dramatically in the area of health related innovations and, most expensively, pharmaceuticals. Until TRIPS, most -- or at least a number approaching half -- countries simply did not grant patents to pharmaceuticals based on the notion that nobody could claim the right to substances and methods essential for human life. TRIPS appears to require most nations in most circumstances to mimic the patent regimes of the most advanced countries that alone because they have the infrastructure to develop and sell drugs to the entire world -- find it profitable to grant monopolies over pharmaceutical products and methods (and to charge other nations -- notably undeveloped ones -- tribute for access to this aspect of health care).