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World Trade Organization Meeting This Week To Discuss Proposed Extension Of TRIPS Transition Period For LDCs

“On March 5-6, the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Council of the World Trade Organization [WTO] will meet in Geneva to seal the fate of the proposal lengthening the TRIPS transition period for the 49 least-developed countries [LDCs],” Devex’s “The Development Newswire” reports, noting, “The transition period, set to expire July 2013, exempts LDCs from the terms of the TRIPS agreement on patents and test data protection for pharmaceuticals.” According to the news service, “The Joint U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS [UNAIDS] and U.N. Development Program [UNDP] [last] week backed the proposal by releasing a new brief that urges WTO members to mull the health, economic and development benefits of an extension.”

“In the brief, UNAIDS and UNDP said the transition period must be extended since LDCs continue to have special needs and requirements for social and economic development,” Devex notes, adding, “Failure to extend the transition period, they added, could block LDCs’ access to vital life-saving antiretroviral treatment and other medicines.” The news service writes, “Other groups have voiced their support for the proposal,” noting, “A recent letter signed by 376 international networks and organizations demanded that the TRIPS Council unconditionally give LDCs a transition period until the time that they have ceased to become underdeveloped” (Morden, 3/1).