WTO Agreement Over Generic Drug Access May Not Ensure Immediate Availability of Drugs
September 9, 2003
Although a World Trade Organization deal on the importation of generic versions of patented drugs goes into effect immediately, it does not ensure that generic drugs -- including antiretroviral medicines -- will be delivered to developing countries in the near future, according to aid agencies, BBC News reports (Dunne, BBC News, 9/7). WTO talks on generic drug access for poor nations had been stalled since Dec. 31, 2002, when members missed a deadline to reach an agreement. However, negotiators on Aug. 30 reached an agreement allowing countries to issue a "compulsory license" to import generic drugs if the country confirms that it cannot domestically manufacture the drugs itself (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/5). The resolution of the drug issue is seen as a victory ahead of a five-day WTO meeting that is scheduled to start tomorrow in Cancun, Mexico, the Los Angeles Times reports (Iritani, Los Angeles Times, 9/7). However, many groups fear that the deal could get "tangled in red tape" and that the generic pharmaceutical industry is not "overly excited" about supplying generic drugs to countries in need, according to BBC News (BBC News, 9/7).
Minneapolis Star Tribune Editorial
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