Five groups of states have different views on their national interests on the issue of intellectual property rights (IPRs) for medicines. The first group, represented by the United States and Switzerland, viewed their IPRs as national properties that could be used as commercial products to achieve financial gains (Elms 2). They are interested in developing medicines and offering them to the global market at competitive prices. Moreover, they are concerned about any plan to allow developing nations to ignore patent protections and manufacture generic drugs for local consumption and exportation.
The second category of states is represented by India and Brazil, two nations that view patents as properties that should be used by any company to develop generic drugs for local and international consumption. Since they do not have “a limited capacity to create new drug classes”, they have developed “companies and technologies that can easily reverse-engineer drugs” originally developed in the US and Switzerland (Elms 3). The third category involves less developed and poor states with multiple disease epidemics such as malaria and HIV/AIDS. These nations, mostly in Africa and the Caribbean, are against protecting drug patents and the commercial use of IPRs on medicines (Elms 3). Rather, they are interested in acquiring the drugs at minimal prices or even free to solve their disease burdens.
The fourth class of states is composed of countries with high income, such as Thailand but also affected by large disease burdens and a lack of research and manufacturing capabilities. Their interest is to acquire technologies and methods from the first category of states and use their financial abilities to develop “…local companies that will develop drugs for local consumption” (Elms 4). The final category of states is composed of countries like Japan and the members of the European Union. Such states have low disease burdens and few pandemics and have large financial abilities. Their interest is to have drugs commercially developed and offered by the developers like Switzerland and the US for them to use their financial abilities to purchase the products.
The US and Switzerland have positions within the Mercantilism/Protectionism theory of social justice and economics. This theory emphasizes the need for self-sufficiency through a favorable international trade balance while protecting individual technologies, methods, procedures, and services through patenting (Elms 1). The idea is to ensure that they use their technologies and economic abilities to make drugs, which should then be offered to the global market at competitive prices and protect their patents from being used by other nations.
Elms, Deborah Kay. Intellectual property rights, drug access, and the Doha round. Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, 2004. PDF.