Playing by the Rules: Using Intellectual Property Law and Policy to Improve Access to Essential Medicines

  • Author: OSI


This 37-page report addresses the roots of the increasing disparities in access to medicines for people in developing countries and transition economies and looks into developments around one increasingly common approach: the use of intellectual property law and policy as a tool to reduce drug prices and, by extension, increase access to essential medicines. The report provides an overview of options available through provisions of a global trade agreement from the 1990s, the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). It considers specific TRIPS-related strategies and steps taken by governments and their allies in different contexts around the world. The goal is not to provide in-depth, exhaustive examples of government and civil society actions, court cases. Instead, the publication aims to highlight, in the simplest terms possible, the wide range of possible options that policymakers and civil society might pursue to improve the availability of essential medicines to all who need them. The report contains an introduction and overview (Section 5) followed by case studies (Section 6) from six countries: South Africa, Thailand, Brazil, the Philippines, Rwanda, and Kenya. Section 7 is a glossary of the key terms and concepts discussed throughout this report in regards to intellectual property, access to medicines, and global trade policy.

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