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Medical News & Perspectives
December 5, 2001

Public Health Triumphs at WTO Conference

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JAMA. 2001;286(21):2655-2656. doi:10.1001/jama.286.21.2655

Paris—The Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that ended on November 14 in Doha, Qatar, resulted in a declaration that puts public health before commercial interests where pharmaceutical patents are concerned.

For more than 3 days, discussions on public health and the need to ensure access for all to essential medicines dominated the trade talks. This was quite surprising, especially considering that pharmaceuticals were not even on the agenda of the last Ministerial Conference, held in Seattle in December 1999. The result is regarded by almost everyone as a victory for public health concerns with regard to pharmaceutical patents.