Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Threat to Patients: A Plea for Doctors to Respond Internationally
Many recent international agreements sponsored by bodies such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) aim to facilitate the global free flow of goods, services and capital, by opening markets under the threat of trade sanctions. Nation states signing such agreements, in particular the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agree to suffer a sovereignty deficit in order to enhance their trading prospects. In the resulting reorganization of trade, medicine may be marginalized as merely another industry that must open its regional doors in the interests of global corporate productivity. We make a plea for medical organizations to lobby in appropriate international fora to create 'hard' norms that ensure such international trade agreements adequately respect the demands of fundamental ethical principles of the doctor-patient relationship.