Pledges and pitfalls: Canada’s legislation on compulsory licensing of pharmaceuticals for export – International Journal of Intellectual Property Management, Vol. 1, Nos. 1/2, 2006

In May 2004, at the urging of civil society advocates, Canada became the first country to enact detailed legislation implementing the August 2003 decision of the World Trade Organization allowing compulsory licensing of pharmaceutical patents in a WTO Member for the purpose of exporting lower-cost generic products to countries lacking sufficient capacity to manufacture their own pharmaceuticals.

The Canadian legislation contains some positive features that should inform law-making elsewhere. However, it also falls short of taking full advantage of flexibilities permitted under WTO law and also contains several unnecessary, ‘TRIPS-plus’ provisions that should be avoided in other jurisdictions implementing the WTO Decision to promote access to more affordable medicines for all.

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