HC Deb 30 January 2002 vol 379 cc313-4W
Mr. David Stewart

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement regarding the promotion of generic drug use in developing nations. [31277]

Clare Short

Generic drugs play a key role in addressing the disease burden of developing countries: at present 95 per cent. of drugs on the World Health Organisation's essential drug list (including almost all treatments for TB and malaria) are off patent and available generically.

But patent protection—as set out in the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS)—remains important for new medicines as an incentive for future research. We support the TRIPS agreement, and the recent declaration at the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Doha, which made clear that the agreement should be interpreted and implemented in such a way as to protect public health and promote access to medicines for all.

We are promoting the appropriate use of both generic and patented drugs in developing countries. We will shortly be disbursing the first instalment of our $200 million contribution to the global fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, to finance increased coverage of tried and tested interventions for the three diseases. Since 1997 we have committed over £1 billion to strengthen developing countries' health systems, in order that more drugs reach the poor who need them.