PLoS: Pressures on Doha Declaration Signatories Preventing Overuse of Compulsory Licenses
Posted 12 January 2012 | By
A recent study in the Public Library of Science's (PLoS) Medicine journal provides a review of the Doha Declaration, and finds that the issuance of compulsory licenses (CLs) dropped significantly after 2006, and that upper-middle-income countries (UMICs) face barriers to utilizing CL's excessively.
Compulsory licenses are used by countries to override patents when the country deems that a health crisis warrants such action. When the Doha Declaration was first signed, critics warned that it could lead to a situation where countries would override the patents with great regularity. Under compulsory licenses, patent holders are still compensated, but typically on the country's terms. CLs are only sought after voluntary negotiations have failed.
The study notes that while there was an initial surge of CLs after the signing of the Doha Declaration, CLs diminished markedly after 2006 in response to "countervailing pressures against CL use even in UMICs."
The study authors call for a "systematic evaluation of global health governance actions" to address the failure of CLs to have an "important long-term impact on […] access to pharmaceuticals for communicable diseases other than HIV/AIDS in developing and low-income countries."