The TRIPS Agreement and Health Innovation

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12. The TRIPS agreement and health innovation in Bangladesh Padmashree Gehl Sampath

As more and more countries are beginning to acknowledge the need to build science-based health innovation systems, Bangladesh is in a privi- leged position due to its established pharmaceutical sector. Local pharma- ceutical firms dominate the production landscape with a wide range of generics that include antiulcerants, fluoroquinolones, antirheumatic non-steroid drugs, non-narcotic analgesics, antihistamines, and oral anti- diabetic drugs. As a least developed country, Bangladesh is exempted from implementing the pharmaceutical patenting provisions of the TRIPS agreement until 2016, an exemption from which its own local pharma- ceutical firms could benefit extensively. The local pharmaceutical sector exports a wide range of pharma- ceutical products (therapeutic class and dosage forms) to 67 countries, and firms are in numerous partnerships with Chinese, Indian and other international firms to expand their technological know-how. The prospect of TRIPS compliance by 2016 and the impending opening up of the local market to international competition (presently, only those drugs which are not locally produced can be imported) is transforming not only the local firm-level strategies for pharmaceutical production, but also increasingly the publicly provided healthcare services available in the country. This chapter uses original empirical data collected by the author during a sector-wide survey in 2007, updated in 2010, to analyse the impact of pat- enting as under the TRIPS agreement on health innovation in Bangladesh . The analysis seeks to provide some answers to an important question in