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WTO ministers reach agreement on drug access

WTO ministers reach agreement on drug access

World Trade Organization ministers meeting in Sydney on Thursday agreed on a proposal that will allow developing nations access to generic medicines to treat HIV/AIDS and other serious diseases, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. The meeting focused in part on how to implement a declaration approved in November 2001 by a WTO working group that said developing nations can override patent protections to manufacture generic medicines during times of health emergencies. The ministers in Sydney have agreed to endorse an agreement that will allow some developing countries to manufacture generic versions of patented drugs for HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis and export those drugs to other poor countries on a case-by-case basis. The agreement includes provisions outlining which countries will be allowed to manufacture the drugs. The proposal also includes sections waiving "any formal trade legal action" against developing nations that produce generic pharmaceuticals and establishing guidelines so that cheap drugs aren't illegally diverted to wealthy nations.

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