TRIPS, Access to Medicines, and Developing Nations: Towards an Open Source Solution
November 2006By Krishna Ravi Srinivas
Working Paper No. 248, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore
The access to drugs and development of new drugs for neglected diseases in developing nations is a major issue. To what extent intellectual property rights (IPRs) facilitate or hinder this is a controversial issue. The harmonization of global IP regime under TRIPS norms has eliminated many of the options including using process patents without limits, which were earlier available to developing nations. A report of the WHO Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH) has pointed out the problems and has suggested some solutions to the vexing question of IPRs and access to drugs in developing nations.
In this paper, one particular solution, using Open Source as a potential model for drug discovery, is taken up for analysis. The potentials and pitfalls are examined. It is pointed out that the Open Source model is relevant for developing nations in developing new drugs. It is suggested that developing nations should give this model a serious consideration and try to use this model in the best possible manner considering their capacity for innovation and as a solution to find cures for neglected diseases. It is also pointed out that while Open Source model is not a panacea it is certainly a model worth examining and encouraging.
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