Treaties and Access to Medicines

Trade and investment treaties increasingly include provisions that mandate parties adopt the same expansive intellectual property rights protection common in developed countries. With strong intellectual property protection, however, comes decreasing access and affordability of new medicines. Well before the COVID-19 crisis, the rising costs of essential medicines and the limited ability to produce affordable generics were chief concerns for low- and middle-income countries.

Meanwhile, the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have put global health at the center of the global development agenda. SDG 3 seeks to “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” Under that rubric, the SDGs outline a pathway to “achieve universal health coverage, including access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.”

The Global Development Policy Center research and policy work surrounding Trade and Investment Treaties and Access to Medicines examines the extent to which the trade and investment regime is compatible with SDG 3 and seeks to identify policy pathways that can help make the trade and investment regime more consistent with the SDGs.

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