U.S. drops key demand in WTO drug talks
The United States on Sunday made a crucial concession in ongoing World Trade Organization talks on allowing developing nations to make or import generic versions of patented medications, including anti-HIV drugs. U.S. officials had opposed the generic-drug agreement because of concerns that developing nations would be able to create or import generic versions of drugs not used to treat infectious diseases, like the blockbuster drug Viagra. The United States had refused to support the agreement until it included a list of specific diseases for which generic drugs would be permitted. However, U.S. officials dropped the demand for such a list during talks on Sunday.
"The approach of a specific list has proved not to work, so...we are not insisting on such a list at this point," a U.S. official said. U.S. trade representative Robert Zoellick, meeting with pharmaceutical company leaders in Nice, France, also confirmed that the United States had backed off its insistence that the agreement apply only to certain infectious diseases and said that progress on the WTO agreement was moving forward. WTO officials said they are hopeful a final agreement will be in place by the September WTO ministerial meeting, scheduled to be held in Cancú;n, Mexico.