NAFTA officials back generic anti-HIV drugs
July 21 2004 12:00 AM ET
On Friday top U.S. and Canadian trade officials agreed not to use the North American Free Trade Agreement to block Canadian exportation of more than 50 generic versions of patented drugs to fight HIV, tuberculosis, and other diseases in developing countries. U.S. trade representative Robert Zoellick; James Peterson, Canada's minister of international trade; and Fernando Canales, Mexico's secretary of economy were in San Antonio for the 10th annual NAFTA Free Trade Commission meeting.
"The United States has worked to ensure that the implementation of the NAFTA stays abreast of modern developments in the area of HIV/AIDS and access to medicines," said Zoellick, who along with his Canadian counterpart, Peterson, urged Mexico to also sign on to the generic drug agreement.
The newly reached agreement comes after the World Trade Organization recently created a legal loophole that permits poor countries to override patents on expensive drugs and order generic versions, with the patent holders receiving a small payment. In May, Canada passed a law allowing the export of generic versions of patented drugs to poor nations. (AP)