Rapid Fire Session 2014 World Cancer Congress

Access to cancer treatments in the face of intellectual property and international trade laws (#389)

Elizabeth Holzer 1
  1. Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Background and Context:

The affordability and availability of cancer treatments is often affected by the existence of intellectual property rights as well as international trade obligations.


For those involved in cancer treatment and the development of cancer control policies (particularly in low and middle income countries) it is important to have a basic understanding of the legal framework that may affect access to, as well as the affordability of cancer medicines. Awareness of the inbuilt flexibilities in international trade agreements that may allow for greater and reduced cost access to essential cancer treatments is also essential knowledge for those working in the field.


This presentation will give participants a broad overview of the intellectual property and trade laws that impact access to medicines.

Programme/Policy Process:

The presentation will include a basic introduction to intellectual property law, the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the Doha Declaration and examples of bi and multi-lateral free trade agreements that affect access to medicines. The presentation will also provide examples that illustrate how countries have successfully relied on the existence of these flexibilities to reduce the cost of essential medications including a review of recent high profile cases from India.

Outcomes/What was learned:

The aim of the presentation will be to equip participants with a basic understanding of the international legal framework that affects access to cancer medicines. This will enable participants to identify situations where the legal flexibilities built into the international agreements may be used to ensure affordable access to essential cancer treatments as well as identify risks and advocacy opportunities surrounding the negation of new free trade agreements.