From Struggle to Surge: China's TRIPS Experience and Its Lessons for Access to Medicines
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW AND ACCESS TO MEDICINE: TRIIPS AGREEMENT, HEALTH, AND PHARMACEUTICALS, Srividhya Ragavan and Amaka Vanni, eds., Routledge, 2021, Forthcoming
21 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2020 Last revised: 18 Jan 2021
Date Written: August 19, 2020
The WTO TRIPS Agreement has imposed unprecedented burdens on countries in the developing world. Although many developing and least developed countries continue to struggle with the Agreement's high intellectual property protection and enforcement standards, large or populous emerging economies, such as Brazil, China, India, South Africa, Thailand, have managed to adapt the Agreement with some success. As economic and technological conditions improved, these emerging economies began to secure even greater benefits from the TRIPS-based intellectual property system, thereby initiating a self-reinforcing virtuous cycle.
Out of all emerging economies, no country provides a better illustration for a complete transformation of its intellectual property system and pharmaceutical landscape than China. This chapter therefore aims to document the country's journey from its struggle with the TRIPS Agreement to its recent surge in the global pharmaceutical arena. It begins by recounting China's initially reluctant effort to introduce high and externally driven intellectual property standards, including the TRIPS standards that were introduced before and shortly after the country's accession to the WTO. The chapter then discusses China's innovative turn, which began in the mid-2000s when its leaders made a major policy push toward the development of independent innovation. The chapter further examines the recently proposed amendments to Chinese patent law and pharmaceutical regulations. It concludes with five distinct lessons that China's TRIPS experience has provided for the debate on the TRIPS Agreement and on access to medicines.
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