Joseph Stiglitz, university professor at Columbia University and holder of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2001 “Life should always come before profit, and never more than in the midst of a pandemic. The WTO should not have rules that deliberately create barriers to the importation of necessary medicines, whether from rich or poor countries; and above all because these rules limit the ability of companies to achieve effective economies of scale. The opt-out of Article 31a is protectionism in its worst form – where it is lives that can be lost – and something that is clearly not in the interest of any country, large or small, importer or exporter, during the COVID-19 crisis. “After more than 11 years, the amendment to the Agreement on Intellectual Property Rights has finally entered into force. On 6 December 2005, the General Council of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) adopted the Protocol amending the Trade Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) (Article 31a) and opened it for adoption by the Member States. The protocol provided for additional flexibilities for the granting of special compulsory licences for the export of medicines, first established by a 2003 members` decision, known as the Doha Declaration. Patrick Durisch, public health policy expert » As a small country, Switzerland would be well advised to reverse its regrettable decision of the past to reject the TRIPS mechanism under Article 31 bis as an importing member of the WTO. This would clearly be in the national interest, as it offers an additional card that can be played in these uncertain times if national access to affordable COVID-19 technologies were to be hindered. James Love, Director, Knowledge Ecology International “In 2003, the WTO concluded negotiations to correct a well-known error in the TRIPS Agreement. The possibility of benefiting from a compulsory license for a patent depends on the ability to obtain a product from a competing supplier, for example. B in the case of drugs, by a company that sells generic versions. It won`t always be the case that a supplier who can make a good one is based in your own country, and even if there is one, they may not be able to meet local demand or work efficiently. Access to know-how is often important, especially when time is of the essence.
Economies of scale are not side effects that you can forget after your first economics class. If you want cheap medicines, vaccines and tests, the ability to export and import is part of the solution. It is absolutely outrageous that 37 WTO members have not allowed themselves to import, even in the event of a health emergency. This must be remedied, for the current pandemic and for the next health crisis that will certainly follow one day. The definition also states that “some members will not use the system as important members/footnote 3/”. The countries mentioned in footnote 3 were: “Australia, Canada, the European Communities and their member States, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the United States for the purposes of Article 31 bis and this Annex”. Since the adoption of the decision, some countries have joined the European Union and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has withdrawn. Although there are exceptions and possible circumventions of this restriction, the WTO has recognised that Article 31(f) creates an undesirable barrier to access to medical inventions and has adopted, in a number of measures from 2001 to 2017/2, a new Article 31a, which provides for a new derogation from the export restriction provided for in Article 31(f). . .