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Poor countries allowed to import generic drugs, says WTO

Staff Writer |
Poor countries are allowed to import generic medicines, World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevedo told Reuters, after the required two-thirds of members agreed a deal that has taken more than a decade to finalise.

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The amendment to the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agreement gives the world's most vulnerable people access to drugs for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, Azevedo said later in a statement.

"The TRIPS amendment is coming into force today," he said, referring to the first ever amendment to the 1995 WTO rules and one that cements what was a temporary waiver allowing countries that cannot produce their own generic medicines to import them.

Azevedo said WTO agreements should not work in a vacuum and should also support development and better livelihoods around the world, complementing other goals such as environmental policy and public health.

WHO chief Margaret Chan welcomed the amendment but said much still remained to be done to make drugs, whether patented or off-patent, affordable and accessible.

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