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Addressing legal and political barriers to global pharmaceutical access: Options for remedying the impact of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the imposition of TRIPS-plus standards



Despite myriad programs aimed at increasing access to essential medicines in the developing world, the global drug gap persists. This paper focuses on the major legal and political constraints preventing implementation of coordinated global policy solutions – particularly, the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and bilateral and regional free trade agreements. We argue that several policy and research routes should be taken to mitigate the restrictive impact of TRIPS and TRIPS-plus rules, including greater use of TRIPS flexibilities, advancement of human rights, and an ethical framework for essential medicines distribution, and a broader campaign that debates the legitimacy of TRIPS and TRIPS-plus standards themselves.


Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: Jillian Clare Cohen-Kohler, Assistant Professor, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, 144 College Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3M2, Canada. Email:


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Addressing legal and political barriers to global pharmaceutical access: Options for remedying the impact of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the imposition of TRIPS-plus standards



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