Released this month: Oxfam’s Report on the Implementation of the Doha Declaration. The Doha Declaration was meant to make things easier for developing countries suffering from health crises and requiring access to patented medicines.

Oxfam’s report is, in a word, damning. This from the summary:

Since 2001…rich countries have failed to honour their promises. Their record ranges from apathy and inaction to a dogged determination to undermine the Declaration’s spirit and intent. The USA, at the behest of the pharmaceutical industry, is uniquely guilty of seeking ever-higher levels of intellectual property protection in developing countries.

The USA has negotiated numerous bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTAs) that impose what are known as ‘TRIPS-plus’ intellectual property rules, weakening or eliminating the public health safeguards allowed under TRIPS. Patented medicines thus have even higher levels of intellectual property protection than required under TRIPS, delaying the availability of affordable generics. The USA has also pressured countries for greater patent protection through threats of trade sanctions and through the WTO accession process.

The ‘Paragraph 6 Public Health Solution’ has not facilitated delivery of affordable, generic medicines to poor countries with insufficient or no drug manufacturing capacity. Rich-country intransigence during negotiations created barriers that made the solution almost unworkable, and these countries are in no hurry to make the solution work. Canada, which first implemented the solution, made it even more complicated.The USA has not enacted legislation, while the EU only approved regulations implementing the solution in mid-2006.

Also of interest, this discussion of the report on the International Economic Law and Policy Blog, canvassing the idea of whether the imposition of TRIPS-Plus terms in RTAs and FTAs might in fact be WTO non-compliant – that is, illegal.