Poor countries permitted to import cheaper generics through new WTO amendment

Members of the World Trade Organization passed an amendment allowing poor countries to import generic medications, reports Reuters.

The amended Trade Related Aspects on Intellectual Property agreement now offers the world's most vulnerable populations with access to drugs for HIV or AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, among other diseases, WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo said in a statement.

This is the first amendment to the WTO rules, created in 1995. Previously, a temporary waiver allowed countries that could not produce their own generic drugs to import them, according to the report.

Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, embraced the amendment but said more work is needed to make drugs affordable and accessible to all.

"We are a long way from reaching global equity in access to medicines, especially at a time when the costs of some new treatments are unsustainable even in the richest countries in the world," she told Reuters.

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