Issue brief |

Will the lifeline of affordable medicines for poor countries be cut? Consequences of medicines patenting in India

2005 marks a fundamental and potentially dramatic change in access to medicines in developing countries: countries which do not yet grant patents on medicines, such as India, now have to implement patent laws in compliance with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. Indian parliamentarians meet in February 2005 to begin discussing the President’s Patent (Amendment) Ordinance of December 2004.

This document briefly outlines the issues at stake and the choices available to Indian policy makers to ensure access to affordable and effective medicines for millions of people in developing countries - as seen from the perspective of Médecins Sans Frontières, a humanitarian medical organisation working in nearly 80 countries worldwide. This paper is aimed at political decision-makers, but also journalists, care providers, medicine suppliers, non-governmental organisations and any other groups and individuals interested in improving access to medicines.