No change in WTO drug access talks
BY Advocate.com Editors
May 28 2003 12:00 AM ET
No progress has been made in current talks at the World Trade Organization to open up access to generic anti-HIV medications in developing countries, mostly due to U.S. opposition to the plan. The organization remains deadlocked on the issue because the United States refuses to sign an agreement that would allow poor nations to develop or import generic medications to treat health emergencies. U.S. officials say the measure should be narrowed to cover only certain diseases because they claim the plan currently being debated would allow generic versions of any patented drug, including blockbuster medications like Viagra, to be made or sold overseas. The United States was the only nation to fail to sign an agreement in February that would have expanded generic drug access in developing nations.
Harvey Bale, president of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations, said there has been no change in positions in recent talks. Supachai Panitchpakdi, director-general of the WTO, and other trade officials have called for a resolution to the problem before the September meeting of the WTO in Cancun, Mexico.