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China Accepts WTO Amendment to Enhance Access to Drugs (China)

This article was originally published in PharmAsia News

Executive Summary

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, has accepted an amendment to the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) to improve access to medicines when dealing with public health emergencies. The amendment allows countries to override patent rights when necessary to export life-saving pharmaceuticals to developing countries that are facing public health crises but cannot produce drugs for themselves. The amendment also makes permanent the flexibility of developing and least developed members to produce or import generic copies of patented drugs to deal with epidemics. "The amendment will play a positive role in balancing relations between intellectual property rights protection and public health promotion, helping developing and least developed countries to deal with public health problems as well," said Ma Xiuhong, Vice Minister of Commerce. The amendment will be formally incorporated into the TRIPS Agreement when two thirds of the WTO members have ratified it. Members have until Dec. 1, 2007 to do so. (Click here for more

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