Pathways to Access: Our global summit on intellectual property and access to medicines

23 years after the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement was signed in Morocco, our inaugural conference will look back on its impact on health and access to medicines, and chart a way forward.

This month (15-17 January 2018) community representatives, governments, civil society, academics, experts and international agencies will convene in Marrakech, Morocco, to look at the impact of international trade rules on the lives and health of millions of people across the globe.

Back in 1994, the city hosted the meeting where World Trade Organization (WTO) members signed the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The Agreement required members to amend their intellectual property (IP) laws and grant 20 year product patents on pharmaceuticals.

For many countries these were drastic changes to their national IP process, and the consequences have since become apparent. The Agreement is being used, and abused, by pharmaceutical companies to create monopolies, resulting in barriers to cheaper, generic medicines.

As well as looking at the impact of the TRIPS Agreement, Pathways to Access, will:

  • Highlight the critical role played by people living with HIV, Hep C, cancer and other diseases, and NGOs and health groups, in the implementation of TRIPS flexibilities since 1995.
  • Determine the key factors required for civil society organizations to sustain work in this area.
  • Identify key opportunities to expand access to safe, effective and affordable generic medicines.
  • Provide a strategic platform to discuss successes and setbacks for governments and civil society in resisting trade, lobbying and litigation threats that undermine the use of TRIPS flexibilities.
  • Look at alternative legal frameworks for IP and health that prioritize the right to health over trade rules.

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