Key Benefits of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights

Robert Hindes, MD, the chief medical officer and co-founder of BeyondWest Pharmaceuticals, specializes in infectious diseases. While pharmaceutical companies strive to make vital medications available to anyone in need of treatment or vaccination, there are times when goal-oriented firms require consultation with and involvement of the World Trade Organization to leverage policies embedded in its Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.

During a public health emergency, the World Trade Organization negotiates lower prices for necessary medications for countries facing an epidemic. In cases where pharmaceutical companies cannot drop the price sufficiently, licenses are given to companies that can make generic versions of the medications.

The goal of the World Trade Organization’s TRIPS Agreement is to ensure everyone has access to the medications they need. Some medical professionals, like Robert Hindes, MD, believe that the high incidence of hepatitis C in Egypt, Pakistan, and the Ukraine could lead to production of low-cost, generic alternatives for hepatitis C medications. The goal of BeyondWest is to take HCV drugs in development and continue clinical trials in developing markets. Once the regimen is marketed in these countries, patients would have access to an effective low cost HCV treatment, and this may obviate the need to manufacture generic versions of branded medications with patent protection.