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2005-12-23-U.S. Formally Accepts WTO Amendment Allowing Developing Countries To Import Generic HIV/AIDS Medications
The US on Saturday formally accepted an amendment to the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights that allows developing countries to issue compulsory licenses to import generic drugs for diseases such as HIV/AIDS if a country confirms that it cannot manufacture them domestically, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman said, Xinhuanet reports (Xinhuanet, 12/17).
The WTO general council earlier this month agreed to extend a 2003 waiver that allows compulsory licenses. However, the waiver needs approval from two-thirds of the organization's 149 members by Dec. 1, 2007, to become a permanent amendment to the TRIPS agreement (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/15).
Portman in a statement said the U.S. is the first WTO member to formally accept the amendment, adding, "Our acceptance of this amendment is an important step in the global effort in providing the best access to lifesaving drugs" (AFX/Forbes, 12/18).
Several organizations that advocate for greater drug access say the agreement is "too cumbersome to be effective," AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 12/17). However, Portman said the waiver extension "shows how positive trade rules can meet the needs of developing countries, especially those who currently face health crises" (Xinhuanet, 12/17).