E.U. Adopts Modified TRIPS Agreement
The European Union on Monday at a meeting in Brussels, Belgium, adopted a modified version of the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of International Property Rights -- which aims to improve access to low-cost HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria drugs in developing countries -- AFP/Nasdaq.com reports (AFP/Nasdaq.com, 11/19). The TRIPS agreement allows developing countries to issue compulsory licenses to import generic drugs for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB or malaria if a country confirms that it cannot manufacture them domestically. In addition, governments can approve the domestic production of generic versions of patented drugs during emergency public health situations if they fail to reach an agreement with the patent holder, according to the agreement (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/14/06).
The European Union is "firmly committed to ensure that, in particular, least-developed countries have access to essential medicines at the lowest possible prices, in particular in their fight against HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria," E.U. foreign ministers said in a statement. They added that health is an "essential component" of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and "one of the main priorities of the E.U. development policy." The TRIPS agreement will be binding if two-thirds of the 151 WTO members sign it. About 12 countries -- including India, Japan and the U.S. -- had ratified the agreement ahead of the E.U. foreign ministers meeting, according to AFP/Nasdaq.com (AFP/Nasdaq.com, 11/19).