Availability of anti-AIDS drugs must improve – Jo

Jo has called for International Development Ministers to lend political weight to TRIPs negotiations

Jo Swinson MP has urged International Development Ministers to work with developing countries to bring about wider access to anti-AIDS drugs.

Speaking at a Westminster Hall debate today on HIV/AIDS and the provision of anti-retroviral drugs, Jo called for greater assistance to be given to developing countries in negotiations over the right to reproduce expensive imported drugs more cheaply for domestic markets.

Jo commented after the debate:

“It is vital that we increase the availability of anti-retroviral drugs to HIV/AIDS sufferers in areas of the world where the disease is wreaking havoc.

“Many people will have seen the recent news reports of ten new cases of HIV inside a month in St Ives, Cornwall. As serious as this situation is, it is dwarfed by the number of new cases of HIV arising every day in many parts of the world. In Botswana, a staggering 37.3% of the adult population is HIV positive.

“Trade-Related Intellectual Property rights, or TRIPs, prevent developing countries producing their own cheaper versions of anti-retroviral drugs. Intellectual property rights should of course be respected, but as Ministers agreed at the Doha WTO talks in 2001, intellectual property should not take precedence over public health.

“Ministers in the Department for International Development must ensure that this commitment is meaningful in practice. This means not only giving aid to help developing countries build their domestic manufacturing capacity, but also lending expertise and political weight to TRIPs negotiations over the right to produce cheaper drugs and treatments.”

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