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Access to Medicines
Access to Medicines

Access to Medicines

The Interface between Patents and Human Rights. Does one size fit all?

School of Human Rights Research


494 Pages, 6.75 x 9.25

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $108.00 (US $108.00)

Publication Date: June 2014

ISBN 9781780682471

Rights: US & CA

Intersentia (Jun 2014)

Available from local and national retailers throughout the US.


Millions of people worldwide lack adequate access to medicines, particularly in developing countries where resources are scarce, with devastating human, social, and economic consequences. The example of HIV/AIDS - for which treatment has advanced so significantly in the last decade that a diagnosis no longer necessarily brings with it a death sentence - highlights the importance of ensuring that essential medicines are affordable and accessible to all. This book focuses on one aspect of access to medicines: the affordability of essential medicines and the connection to human rights and patents. The argument often made is that patent protection for medicines results in higher prices which negatively impacts access. Patients having no access - or inadequate access - to affordable medicines endangers the full realization of human rights, particularly the right to health. The book investigates this issue from a legal perspective, taking both an international and a domestic angle. It examines the interface of access to affordable medicines and patent protection from the perspective of international human rights law and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) within the framework of the World Trade Organization. The essential question posed is whether access to medicines and patent protection conflict or coexist. The discussion is deepened by including a developing country approach with three country studies (South Africa, India, and Uganda). This approach aims to provide concrete insight into whether these countries recognize and acknowledge the interplay between patents and human rights with respect to access to medicines. Second, these studies examine whether TRIPS leaves sufficient freedom for (developing) States to adopt a patent system suited to their domestic needs, enabling them to strike a fair balance between access to medicines and patent protection for medicines. In other words: does one size fit all? The book is targeted at both academics and human rights practitioners, including government officials, human rights advocates, and NGOs. It illustrates that the normative force of human rights in combination with social movement can provide a powerful tool for prioritizing the health needs of the global poor. (Series: School of Human Rights Research - Vol. 64) [Subject: International Law, Human Rights Law, Patent Law, Pharmaceutical Law, Medical Law]

Author Biography

Jennifer Anna Sellin studied law at Maastricht University. In 2005 she obtained her bachelor in law and, in 2007, she obtained a master European Law School (cum laude) specialising in international and European law. During her studies she worked as a student-assistant for the Maastricht Centre for Human Rights (Maastricht University) and did an internship at FIAN International, a human rights NGO located in Heidelberg, Germany.  In 2007 Jennifer started working at the Faculty of Law of Maastricht University as a PhD researcher with the Maastricht Centre for Human Rights. During her appointment she taught various courses at the Faculty of Law mainly in the field of international and European law. She completed her PhD thesis titled "Access to Medicines. The interface between patents and human rights. Does one size fit all?" in 2014 under supervision by Prof. Fons Coomans and Prof. Anselm Kamperman Sanders. In addition to her research and teaching, she was active as the vice-chairperson of the PhD Committee of the Law Faculty and ProVUM, the Maastricht University Ph.D. Association.  Since September 2012 she works full-time as a lecturer with the department of international and European law of the Faculty of Law, Maastricht University. She teaches various courses in the field of international law and European at the Faculty of Law and Arts and Social Sciences (European Studies Programme) of Maastricht University and the Faculty of Law of the University of Hasselt. She has also taught the summer course "Law and Politics, Current Topics in the EU" at the Centre for European Studies, Maastricht.