About Trade, TRIPS and Access to Medicines

Welcome to the Trade, TRIPS and Access to Medicines website!

Why this site?

SADC Health Ministers decided in 2006 to promote Access to Medicines for all people in SADC. They adopted a Pharmaceutical Business Plan 2007-2013 which included a section on the TRIPS agreement. In short, the Ministers wanted Member States to analyze their Intellectual Property (IP) or Patent legislation, and ensure that it promoted maximum Access to Medicines by incorporating so called “TRIPS Flexibilities”.

SARPAM started the “Trade, TRIPS and Access to Medicines” (TTAtM) program in 2012. This website aims to document the activities of the program, analyze progress at country level, and offer opportunities to learn about the problem, and to discuss possible solutions.

What is the problem?

The TRIPS agreement is binding for all member states of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). All 15 SADC member states are members of WTO, and therefore have to incorporate the TRIPS agreement in their national legislation. This was also confirmed in article 24 of the SADC Protocol on Trade:
“Member States shall adopt policies and implement measures within the Community for the protection of Intellectual Property Rights, in accordance with the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.”
Developing country (non-LDC) member states should have already incorporated the minimum requirements of the TRIPS agreement in 2000 or 2005. Not all SADC member states have done this yet. WTO is encouraging member states to do so. Least Developed Countries (LDCs) benefit from an exemption (extended in 2015 until 2033) to fully implement pharmaceutical patents: this applies to 8 countries in SADC: Angola, DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia.
In general, the TRIPS agreement requires member states to increase Intellectual Property protection. For example, patent protection shall be extended to 20 years. As SADC member states are mostly net importers of patented medicines, this is likely to make medicines more costly and affect access to affordable medicines (as procurement or local production of lower priced generics may no longer be permitted for patented medicines unless they apply certain public health “flexibilities” of the TRIPS agreement).

This website aims to assist member states to maximize the “TRIPS flexibilities” in their IP/patent legislation, and to avoid so called “TRIPS-plus” issues which could compromise access to medicines.

The website has a country page for each SADC member state,

Important resources have been collated at the TRIPS resources page.

The final report with recommendations how SADC member states can procure patented medicines is found on the SADC page.


All are welcome to discuss these issues at the Forum page

Wilbert Bannenberg, Trade TRIPS and Access to Medicines (TTAtM) PACT lead (2012-2014)



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