MSF Briefing: 6th WTO Ministerial Conference, Hong Kong, December 2005
As in many countries where Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) works, access to essential medicines is an important problem in China. China began granting product patents on medicines in 1993, and fully implemented the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in 2001 as a condition of joining the WTO. Since 2003, MSF has been running HIV/AIDS treatment and care projects in China's Guangxi and Hubei Provinces; MSF now provides antiretroviral (ARV) therapy to about 335 people living with HIV/AIDS, including 25 children. One of the key challenges in providing quality medical care has been getting access to the appropriate drugs. Intellectual property protection, among other factors, has had wide-ranging impacts on public health and access to medicines in China including: restrictions on drug choice, lack of availability of needed drugs, and high prices for branded drugs.