The World Trade Organization (WTO) should continue providing exemptions to Bangladesh from patent rights set by the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, after the country graduates from being a least developed country (LDC), speakers suggested in a webinar on Thursday.
They said the continuation will be helpful for other LDC countries along with Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is expected to graduate from being an LDC in 2024. The country is currently enjoying exemption from the patent rights and conditions set by the TRIPs. After graduation, however, it will have to comply with the rules of the agreement.
The virtual workshop on emerging issues in access to treatment for covid-19 in Bangladesh was jointly organised by Equity BD, People's Health Movement Bangladesh and the Third World Network (TWN), reads a press statement on Thursday.
The workshop was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD and Prathibha Sivasubramanian of TWN delivered the welcome speech.
Dr Rashid-E-Mahbub, former pro-vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Rabbur Reza, chief operating officer, Beximco Pharmaceuticals, Ranja Sengupta of TWN, Sudip Chaudhuri, former professor, Indian Institute of Management, KM Gopakumar, Senior Researcher and Legal advisor at TWN, Zakir Hossain of People's Health and Ziaul Haque Mukta, members secretary of Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods also spoke at the occasion.
Speaking at the workshop, Gopakumar said that people in developing countries and LDCs need access to vaccines and other health products to survive the Covid-19 pandemic, which requires the widespread availability of these health products.
"TRIPS waiver offers the policy space to do away with the IP monopoly and facilitate the scaling up or production through diversification of the manufacturing base. Further, there is an urgent need to negotiate a smooth transition period for graduating LDCs to address concerns on matters affecting peoples' health," he added.
Meanwhile, Mukta said, TRIPS waiver for Bangladesh doesn't give benefit only for Bangladesh, it is directly benefiting developed countries along with other LDCs and developing countries as these countries can import low-cost medicines from Bangladesh.
The pharma industry is a success story for Bangladesh and it has proven its resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Rabbur Reza of Beximco.
"We are preparing ourselves to face the future challenges, to be in the forefront of the global generic pharma market.," he said.