Published Online: Sunday, January 1, 2006

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has taken action to help developing countries have access to generic medications for communicable diseases such as AIDS. The approved changes to the WTO's intellectual property agreement would make permanent a waiver currently in place and allow economically strapped countries lacking pharmaceutical manufacturing capacities to import cheaper copies of patented medicines for humanitarian purposes.

The organization has set December 1, 2007, as a deadline to approve the amendment. The revision would need to be approved by two thirds of the 148 members.

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