Intellectual property solutions to our COVID-19 woes

It bears noting that IP flexibilities are not limited to the use of compulsory licenses for local manufacturing. For example, the TRIPS Agreement, the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property, allows a country with no sufficient logistical capabilities to gain access to finished products by asking another country to manufacture the medicine in its stead. The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) and the Department of Health recently issued draft guidelines on how to avail of so-called special compulsory licenses which would pave the way for this type of manufacturing.

We may also pursue parallel importation and purchase medicines at lower rates. The Cheaper Medicines Act allows us to import medicine from countries with low-cost manufacturers, instead of buying directly from patent owners.