The Doha Declaration on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and Public Health was adopted at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha on November 14, 2001. The agreement regards access to affordable medicines.
The WTO states, In 2001, WTO Members adopted a special Ministerial Declaration at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha to clarify ambiguities between the need for governments to apply the principles of public health and the terms of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). In particular, concerns had been growing that patent rules might restrict access to affordable medicines for populations in developing countries in their efforts to control diseases of public health importance, including HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. The Declaration responds to the concerns of developing countries about the obstacles they faced when seeking to implement measures to promote access to affordable medicines in the interest of public health in general, without limitation to certain diseases. While acknowledging the role of intellectual property protection "for the development of new medicines", the Declaration specifically recognizes concerns about its effects on prices.
The Doha Declaration affirms that "the TRIPS Agreement does not and should not prevent Members from taking measures to protect public health". In this regard, the Doha Declaration enshrines the principles WHO has publicly advocated and advanced over the years, namely the re-affirmation of the right of WTO Members to make full use of the safeguard provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in order to protect public health and enhance access to medicines for poor countries.
The Doha Declaration refers to several aspects of TRIPS, including the right to grant compulsory licenses and the freedom to determine the grounds upon which licences are granted, the right to determine what constitutes a national emergency and circumstances of extreme urgency, and the freedom to establish the regime of exhaustion of intellectual property rights.