Thursday, August 28, 2003

Geneva: agreement on generic drugs may be signed today

Negotiators at the WTO are expected to approve an agreement on generic drugs today. The negotiators settled on the final wording late yesterday .... after two years of talks!
The proposed statement says that rules allowing countries to override patents "should be used in good faith to protect public health ... not be an instrument to pursue industrial or commercial policy objectives."

It calls for special measures to prevent drugs being smuggled back to rich country markets, including special packaging or different colored tablets.

.... But the development aid group Oxfam said the deal would be a "disaster."

"This would be a travesty of an agreement that would no doubt be presented as wonderful thing for development," said Oxfam's Head of Advocacy in Geneva, Celine Charveriat. "The text contains so much red tape and so many obstacles that if it were accepted developing countries would still struggle to get access to cheap medicines and thousands of people would continue to die unnecessarily."