Home Institution

Brandeis University

Publication Date

Spring 2010

Program Name

Switzerland: International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy


The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS), part of the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations led to the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, has led to a variety of interpretations and opinions. Though its application goes beyond matters of public health, it is this area that has come under the most scrutiny in the last fifteen years as the gaps between developed and developing countries have widened and exposed the health disparities between the two groups. Tensions over intellectual property and access to newly developed medicines to treat diseases such as HIV and AIDS grew throughout the late 1990s and culminated in the 2001 Doha Declaration on Public Health. While intellectual property would normally be left to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), developed and developing countries had difficulty agreeing on compulsory licenses during negotiations in the 1980s and early 1990s, and as a result the matter went to the WTO instead. One of the most controversial aspects of intellectual property has been access to medicines treating HIV and AIDS. The number of those receiving anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment has grown tremendously, which raises the question of the role the TRIPS Agreement and the Doha Declaration on Public Health have played. One cannot attribute success entirely to the TRIPS Agreement but at the same time one cannot deny its impact. This paper will provide an overview of the policies and explain how if nothing else, the power to issue compulsory licenses has aided developing countries in their efforts to provide ARV treatment for HIV/AIDS patients.


Intellectual Property Law | Law and Society | Public Health