The world's innovative drugmakers have backed moves to allow developing nations more time to meet their obligations in terms of intellectual property.

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) has given its support for calls to extend the deadline for least-developed countries (LDCs) to comply with the provisions of the World Trade Organisation's Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The backing comes after the UK Government's White Paper on Trade and Investment was published.

The latter states that the UK, through the WTO, "will encourage the European Union to advocate an extension to the current deadline of 2013 for LDCs to meet the requirements". The government added that "we will also champion calls for the WTO to agree a waiver that allows developed countries to offer preferential access for LDCs to their services markets". 

The original TRIPS of 1995 laid down "transition provisions" which gave various countries periods of time to adapt their legislation and practices to meet their IP obligations and they vary depending on the level of development of the country concerned. Initially LDCs had until 2005 but that was extended up to 2013.

IFPMA says it understands that certain WTO member states may now be willing to extend that further, noting that the 2001 Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health had already extended the period for LDCs to comply with provisions on pharmaceuticals from January 2006 to January 2016. 

David Brennan, IFPMA president and chief executive of AstraZeneca, said: “we recognise the significant development challenges experienced by LDCs and believe that an extension would be useful to allow for effective TRIPS implementation". Such an extension "should be used to align implementation across all areas of technology, to ensure a consistent approach", he added.

Mr Brennan concluded by saying "our industry continues to believe that effective IP rights are a crucial component of long-term economic development within these countries, and international organisations and national bodies should continue to provide technical assistance, based on specific in-country needs.”