The World Trade Organization's executive body on Friday delayed a decision on a compromise agreement that would give developing nations access to generic drugs, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The compromise agreement was supported by WTO Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights members South Africa, Brazil, Kenya, the United States, and India, but the refusal of representatives from the Philippines and Argentina to add statements of support delayed the agreement from being sent to the full General Council for approval. WTO officials say it is now unlikely the measure will be ready for consideration at the full WTO trade ministers meeting in Cancun, Mexico, in two weeks.
The draft of the agreement would allow developing nations to make or import generic versions of patented drugs. The draft resolution says that developing countries would not use the WTO measure to boost their generic drug industries but instead would seek waivers to patent protections on medications only to protect public health. U.S. officials had been concerned that a more broadly worded measure would allow genetic drug firms in developing nations to violate the patents on blockbuster drugs not used to treat diseases, like Viagra, and had initially opposed the proposal. But Bush administration officials in June backed down and agreed to accept a compromise plan that still carried some protections for the pharmaceutical industry.