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Aid agencies dealing with the AIDS pandemic have welcomed the declaration on patent rights adopted at the Doha World Trade Organisation meeting this month. Others say the deal may in the future still allow challenges from the pharmaceutical majors for patent infringements since the formal wording of the 'trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights' (TRIPS) agreement has not been altered. But the deal will immediately make the issue of costs of treatment drugs less explosive.
In addition the deal may strengthen the argument of those groups, including the Treatment Action Campaign, who are challenging the SA government in cour for its rejection of a public programme of anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment, citing costs. This is despite a recent deal with GlaxoSmithKline enabling three key anti-AIDS drugs to be produced in SA for the public sector at about half the current price.
The WTO declaration makes a clear political …