EU confident of WTO medicines deal

The European Union (EU) on Friday said an agreement allowing developing countries access to generic medicines for diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria could be reached before or during an upcoming World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit in Cancun, Mexico.

This follows recent reports that WTO envoys had failed to reach a deal during overnight talks which ended early on Friday.

Negotiators had been seeking agreement to ensure developing countries without pharmaceutical capacity could import generic versions of patented medicines.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) quoted EU trade commissioner, Pascal Lamy, as saying: "There was no agreement last night. My view is that there will be one either before or at Cancun."

US opposition blocked the deal last December, citing concerns that the proposal could open the way to generic producers like Brazil and India flooding the market with cheap medicines.

"The Americans must join us ... because there are moments when health must take precedence over international trade," Lamy added.