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AIDS drug stumbling block to upcoming trade talks

Intellectual property rights to urgently needed AIDS drugs remain a stumbling block as the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) prepares to revive free trade talks with the US in the next two weeks, analysts have said. Trade talks in Atlanta, US, collapsed last year partly as a result of disagreements over the drugs, with SACU pushing for the right to manufacture more generic versions of the medicines. Tenu Avafia, a senior researcher at the Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa, said the US position was "very restrictive" because generic pharmaceutical manufacturers had to wait five years before they could use the technology of US patent holders. "This could delay access to affordable antiretroviral medicines in SACU countries as the region battles the world's worst HIV/AIDS pandemic and widespread poverty," Avafia told Reuters.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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