WHO Defeats ‘Radical’ Proposals to Increase Access to Generic HIV/AIDS Drugs
The World Health Organization on Saturday rejected several "radical proposals" to allow for easier access to "cheap HIV/AIDS drugs," and instead passed a resolution urging "greater efforts toward tackling the epidemic," the AP/Los Angeles Times reports. The rejected proposals, backed by Brazil, had sought both "legislative protection of local production of cheaper generic drugs" and the establishment of a "price databank that would allow countries to shop around more easily among different pharmaceutical companies." The adopted resolution -- which came after "two days of heated debate" at the World Health Assembly, the WHO's annual meeting -- directs WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland to "maintain close collaboration with the international community and the private sector with the aim of improving the availability of medicines for HIV/AIDS, including antiretroviral therapy." But activists said that the resolution "doesn't go far enough." Ellen't Hoen, a member of Doctors Without Borders, said that the resolution is "something we could have done without. ... This is almost like a step backward. What I find very peculiar is that so many countries expressed their concerns about intellectual property, patents and drug prices, but none of that is reflected in the resolution." The Brazilian proposals met objection from the United States, Europe and some "other countries," who said that the "WHO didn't have the authority or resources" to promote generic drugs worldwide, and that "trade and patent issues were best handled by the World Trade Organization," which sets global trade rules (Nullis, AP/Los Angeles Times, 5/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.