Healthy Option

Small victory for Sri Lanka, with WTO decision to amend the TRIPS, to ensure access to medicines for poorer countries. Small victory for Sri Lanka, with WTO decision to amend the TRIPS, to ensure access to medicines for poorer countries. After years of lobbying, poorer members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) saw a small victory this week by getting an agreement to emend the controversial TRIPS agreements.

“WTO members on 6 December 2005 approved changes to the intellectual property agreement making permanent a decision on patents and public health originally adopted in 2003,” said a statement from the WTO.

This means countries like Sri Lanka – that do not have sufficient drug manufacturing capacity at home – can over ride patents and get another country to make the drugs and can then import the drugs.

Even earlier, the TRIPS did allow countries to issue compulsory licenses to over ride patents but there was a condition attached – that these drugs are “predominantly for the supply of the domestic market”.

This is a problem for countries like Sri Lanka, because drug making countries may n