World Trade Organization Generic Drug Deal Not Being Implemented, Leaving Developing Countries Without Antiretrovirals, UNAIDS Says
Some countries have not taken steps to implement a World Trade Organization agreement that allows developing countries to waive patent laws to import generic drugs, including antiretroviral drugs, UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said, Reuters reports (Reuters, 7/6). WTO negotiators in August 2003 reached an agreement to allow developing countries to issue a compulsory license in order to import generic drugs if the country confirms that it cannot domestically manufacture them (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/24). Only Mozambique, Malaysia and Canada have adopted legislation to implement the agreement, Piot said on Tuesday (Reuters, 7/6). The Canadian Parliament in May adopted a bill (C-9) that would would amend the country's patent laws to permit the government to order the override of patents to allow certain pharmaceutical manufacturers to produce and export generic drugs -- including antiretrovirals -- for use in developing countries (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/13). Although the price of antiretrovirals in developing countries has decreased by more than 90%, only 440,000 of the six million people in the developing world that need treatment have access to the drugs, Reuters reports. Piot also said that it is important to ensure that the quality of generic antiretroviral drugs matches that of brand-name drugs. "We don't only want and need cheap drugs, we need top quality medicines," Piot said, adding, "There is no compromise possible on quality ... that would be immoral" (Reuters, 7/6).
The San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday profiled Indian pharmaceutical company Cipla, which produces the generic fixed-dose combination antiretroviral Triomune and other antiretrovirals (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/7). Triomune combines three different medicines into one pill that is taken twice a day and costs as little as $140 per person per year (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/29). The full article is available online.