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The Jean Chretien Pledge to Africa Act: Patent Law and Humanitarian Aid

Matthew Rimmer, Australian National University College of Law


This article evaluates the implementation of the WTO General Council Decision in 2003, which resolved that developed nations could export patented pharmaceutical drugs to member states in order to address public health issues - such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics. The Jean Chretien Pledge to Africa Act 2004 (Canada) provides authorisation for the export of pharmaceutical drugs from Canada to developing countries to address public health epidemics. The European Union has issued draft regulations governing the export of pharmaceutical drugs. A number of European countries - including Norway, the Netherlands, France, and Switzerland - are seeking to pass domestic legislation to give force to the WTO General Council Decision. Australia has shown little initiative in seeking to implement such international agreements dealing with access to essential medicines. It is argued that Australia should implement humanitarian legislation to embody the WTO General Council Decision, emulating models in Canada, Norway, and the European Union. Ideally, there should be no right of first refusal; the list of pharmaceutical drugs should be open-ended; and the eligible importing countries should not be limited to members of the WTO.

Suggested Citation

Matthew Rimmer. "The Jean Chretien Pledge to Africa Act: Patent Law and Humanitarian Aid" Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Patents Jul. 2005: 889-909.

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