HC Deb 26 February 2001 vol 363 cc528-9W
Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans she has to allow developing countries to make cheap copies of drugs to treat diseases including AIDS, respiratory tract infections and childhood diarrhoea. [150656]

Clare Short

The majority of medicines required for the diseases of poverty are off-patent, and are available at competitive prices from generic companies. The Government believe that TRIPs (the Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights) provides WTO members with sufficient flexibility to implement domestic intellectual property rights regimes that take account of their national circumstances. The agreement allows national governments to use compulsory licensing in certain situations of 'national emergency', when Governments may authorise production of drugs without the consent of patent holders.

We believe the best way forward through negotiation with pharmaceutical companies, on price and licensing. The Government are considering a range of policy options for improving affordability of essential drugs in poor countries through the Performance and Innovation Unit's Global Health Project.