Global Health Governance, Intellectual Property and Access to Essential Medicines: Opportunities and Impediments for South-South Cooperation

Obijiofor Aginam

Intellectual property “rights,” in many complex ways, impede access to Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs in most developing countries with heavy burdens of AIDS-related mortality and morbidity. This article argues that developing countries that lack the necessary pharmaceutical capacity should exploit emerging opportunities for South-South cooperation. While countries like Brazil and India have produced generic ARV drugs, most developing countries either do not have the technology to do so or they are “pressured” against doing so because of the consequences of violation of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) enforced by the Word Trade Organization. Most recently, Uganda entered into an agreement with Cipla, an Indian generic manufacturer of ARV drugs to open a drug plant in Uganda. Because such opportunities for South-South cooperation abound in contemporary global AIDS diplomacy, developing countries should ingeniously exploit them in ways that do not violate TRIPS. The impediments to this framework would include circumventing the hurdles posed by TRIPS as well as the pressure by global pharmaceutical corporate giants against such initiatives.