Canada has become the first country, to invoke a provision allowing it to export a cheap, generic version of patented AIDS drugs, the World Trade Organization to notify the TRIPS Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the Implementation of Compulsory Licence to export the medicines.
On 4th October 2007, Canada became the first country to notify the TRIPS Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) under Paragraph 2(c) of the Decision of 30 August 2003 on the Implementation of Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration of the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health.
The notification follows the earlier notification to import made by Rwanda, 17 July, under paragraph 2(a). This earlier notification informed the WTO of the intention to import 260 000 packs of the fixed-dosed combination treatment for HIV-AIDS, TriAvir. Canada's notification to export the medicine to Rwanda is required under the Decision of 30 August 2003 and, according to the WTO news item, "completes the circle."
Canada's notification under paragraph 2(c) fulfils the requirements under that provision to provide to the TRIPS Council relevant infromation on the compulsory licence. As such, the notification announces the authorisation for the medicine to be produced and exported to Rwanda, the conditions governing the compulsory licence and the medicine covered by the licence. Also required is the website of the company licensed to produce the generic version where posts on quantities and other relevant information are to be published before export occurs.
Future notifications of exports will be published on the WTO's dedicated page. Meanwhile, the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has launched its informal consultation on the proposed changes to the UK Patents Act 1977 to give effect to the Communities' implementation of the Decision on Paragraph 6 on compulsory licences and supplementary protection certificates – Regulation (EC) No 816/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006 on compulsory licensing of patents relating to the manufacture of pharmaceutical products for export to countries with public health problems (Compulsory Licences Regulation). The deadline for responses is 31 October.
Combivir, made by Britain's GlaxoSmithKline PLC, contains lamivudine and zidovudine. Nevirapine is a generic version of Viramune, made by Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH of Germany.
Many AIDS patients have developed resistance to older anti-retrovirals and now need more expensive, second-line drugs. The international aid group Oxfam says the patent-busting procedure is almost never used because developing countries face pressure from rich governments acting on behalf of their drug companies.
Brazil and Thailand have recently issued compulsory licences to develop cheap generic versions of American AIDS drugs, among other medicines. Industry groups criticized the countries, and the United States later placed Thailand on its copyright watch list.
The United Nations says some 190,000 Rwandans, or 2.1 per cent of the population, are living with HIV.