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U.S. and Switzerland Oppose Developing-Country Proposal on Access to Medicines

By John S. James

September 21, 2001

At a September 19 meeting in Geneva, Switzerland on access to medicines, 52 developing countries asked the members of the WTO (World Trade Organization) to agree that rules on international patent protection (known as TRIPS) be interpreted in ways that allow governments to ensure access to affordable medicines; they were not asking for changes in the wording of TRIPS itself. The United States and Switzerland, supported by Japan, Australia, and Canada, opposed their proposal. The European Union did not support either side and sought a negotiated solution; Norway was the only rich country that sided with the developing countries. The U.S./Swiss position "echoed the well-rehearsed views of the international pharmaceutical companies," according to a press release issued jointly by Doctors without Borders, Oxfam, and Third World Network.

The September 19 meeting was to prepare for the World Trade Organization's fourth Ministerial Conference, scheduled for Doha, Qatar, November 9-13, 2001.

For more information, see:

MSF (Doctors without Borders -- Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines)

IFPMA (International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations)

ISSN # 1052-4207

Copyright 2001 by John S. James. Permission granted for noncommercial reproduction, provided that our address and phone number are included if more than short quotations are used.

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