Enhancing Women’s Access to Essential Medicines in Nigeria: A Reconsideration of the Patent Framework of the TRIPS Agreement to Improve Access to Medicines, as a Right to Health and a Means to Human Development in Nigeria
Mike, Jennifer Heaven
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis is available for Library use on the understanding that it is copyright material and that no quotation from the thesis may be published without proper acknowledgement.
Reason for embargo
I am placing an embargo on this work for publication reasons. I am currently working on publishing my thesis as a book. I will also use some chapters for articles.
Abstract The overall objective of this study is to promote the human rights to health of Nigerian women to have access essential medicines, to enhance their human capabilities for human development. This thesis argues for an improvement of women’s access to medicines within the context of patent law and rights in the international IP regime of the Trade Related Aspect of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) Agreement and Nigeria’s national patent system. Towards this goal, the thesis makes the point that patent law and its exclusive rights, both the TRIPS Agreement and national law of Nigeria, do not exist in a social welfare vacuum. The legal text of patent law, which confers rights on inventors when enforced, translates to many other things outside the sphere of property rights; indeed, it can be a matter of life and death. It is argued in this regard that patent right could, in effect, interfere with access to medicines and therefore, the right to health and prospects for human development. The thesis therefore argues that, in the construction, interpretation and enforcement of patent law in Nigeria, there is a need to take into consideration its impact on public health. It is against this backdrop that the research assesses the legal framework of pharmaceutical patents and the implications for women’s access to medicines, from a right to health and human development perspective. This interdisciplinary study is with a view to suggesting ways in which Nigeria’s patent system can be more human development and human rights friendly in the interest of public health, particularly, the use of the TRIPS flexibilities to enhance access to life-saving medicines in Nigeria. Since Nigeria as a member of the World Trade Organisation, is bound by its treaty obligation to adopt the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement, the thesis makes proposals for ways in which the Nigerian government and law-makers, can adapt the patent rules and the flexibilities to suit development objectives and promote public health within the benchmark allowed in TRIPS. In this respect, this thesis critically investigates the practical implications of the available flexibilities and options in the TRIPS Agreement that can be used to address the effects of patents on access to medicines. While this thesis concedes the view that the hindrances to accessibility of essential drugs in Nigeria are multi-faceted and demand a multi-dimensional approach for a lasting solution, it is specifically argued that the TRIPS flexibilities are significant means for addressing the challenges of affordable access to important health treatments within the context of patent law. However, it is emphasised that utilising the flexibilities will require that Nigeria’s patent system is strategically designed to take full advantage of the available safeguards and options. To this end, this study recommends ways to incorporate the flexibilities to enhance access to medicines in Nigeria while avoiding the technical and regulatory pitfalls that have trailed the enforcement of the flexibilities by other developing countries.
PhD in Law