International effort needed to re-open talks in Geneva

Following intensive diplomatic discussions in a number of countries, the United states, with the support of Canada, Switzerland and Japan, decided today (24 October) in Geneva to block any type of consensus making the TRIPS Agreement (the International Intellectual Property Treaty/ World Trade Organization) )more flexible.

Flexibilization of the TRIPS Agreement – a proposal which has been strongly supported by Brazil and other countries- is a key tool to ensure accessible prices for anti-AIDS medicines through local manufacture of such drugs, through importation of generics and by means of a differential pricing policy.

A consensus statement was in the process of being negotiated in Geneva to ensure that drugs patents did not interfere with Public Health policies. This statement was to be submitted to the WTO ministerial meeting in Qatar on 8-13 November.

Confronted by the intransigence of the United States, there will be no statement made at the Qatar meeting and therefore discussion in this topic could well be postponed until the item can be placed on the agenda of a future WTO ministerial meeting.

Given that the Qatar meeting is soon to take place – there are only 15 days left – the decision can only be reversed if international public opinion is duly mobilized, obliging the member countries of the WTO to re-start the negotiations with a view to arriving at a consensus proposal which satisfies the majority of the world’s population which lives in the neediest parts of the planet.

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