Access to Drugs in Developing Countries
Edited by Kenneth C. Shadlen, Samira Guennif, Alenka Guzmán and N. Lalitha
Chapter 11: Access to Essential Drugs in Thailand: Intellectual Property Rights and Other Institutional Matters Affecting Public Health in a Developing Country
Samira Guennif Since the ratification of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement (TRIPS) in 1994 by country members of the new World Trade Organization (WTO), the effects of this agreement in developing countries have been relentlessly questioned. Doubts are persistent in response to incessant incantations from the North holding that the strengthening of intellectual property rights (IPR) in developing countries will foster greater access to the latest technological and therapeutic innovations, finally inducing an improvement in the social welfare of the population in these countries. Studies have been carried out by international organizations, nongovernmental organizations and other bodies to establish the effects of TRIPS in the South. These studies have investigated the chances of technology transfers and foreign direct investments (FDI) toward developing countries (Saggi, 2000; Lall, 2003; Gallagher, 2005; Maskus and Reichman, 2005) as well as the risks for drugs accessibility (Nogues, 1990; Desterbecq and Remiche, 1996; Boulet and Velasquez, 1999; Correa, 2000). In one case or another, IPR have invariably been scrutinized, celebrated or questioned. Highlighting the role of patents as an element influencing the access of Southern countries to the latest technical and therapeutic innovations may lead to the neglect of an essential fact. The pharmaceutical industry is unique insofar as its primary mission is to provide an essential good, i.e. drugs which can help improve the health conditions of people and their life expectancy. As such, while analysing the effect of the introduction of a new regulatory standard as important as the drug...
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