State commits to deal

THE Fiji Government has committed to ratifying the Protocol Amending the TRIPS (trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights) agreement by the end of this year.

Under this agreement World Trade Organisation (WTO) member countries could use the flexible amendments to get affordable medicine.

Permanent secretary for the Ministry of Industry and Trade Shaheen Ali said Fiji could benefit by importing generic medicines at a cheaper price should there be a disease outbreak.

Previously countries had to apply to countries holding patented rights to medicines and only they could give licence to manufacture the medicines.

With the protocol amending the TRIPS agreement in place it gives additional flexibilities to grant special compulsory licences for the export of medicines, according to documents obtained by The Fiji Times.

“Compulsory licence is when a government allows someone else to produce the product or process wi­t­hout the consent of the patent owner, especially durng a national emergency,” the documents state.

Mr Ali said the enforce­ment of the protocol ame­n­ding the TRIPS agreement would be an important sig­nal to ensure a legally secure solution for countries seeking affordable medicines.

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