When patents expire, are equivalent generic alternatives available to citizens? This article contributes to current discussion on access to medicine in the aftermath of the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The focus is on off-patent or “generic” medicines: their product definitions, quality standards and prescription procedures. Drawing from a survey conducted of seventeen countries across the Latin American region, this article examines the differences in definition of off-patent products and the paradox of their relatively lower consumption across multiple developing states. The findings point to pathways for improving standards, consumer information, and access in off-patent pharmaceutical markets.

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