The World Trade Organization’s agreements to protect intellectual property rights and patents were defended by Terence Barnett, president and CEO of Novartis Corp., the New York-based health care company, at a recent luncheon of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta.

He rebutted criticisms by a variety of consumer and health organizations that the pharmaceutical industry is more interested in “profits than people” on grounds that intellectual property rights “are the lifeline of the research-based pharmaceutical industry.”

But he said that the United States and Switzerland “stood virtually alone” in supporting and defending the WTO’s current agreements on intellectual property during the organization’s fall meeting in Doha, Qatar.

“Strong intellectual property protection helps developing nations by enhancing the conditions for investment, encouraging the development of local industry and enabling more goods to be produced,” he said.

Mr. Barnett also said that the current patent systems during the past decade have “nurtured the discovery and development of treatments for AIDs and malaria, vaccines against typhoid fever, cholera and hepatitis, and new drugs to treat pneumonia, hepatitis, leprosy and medicines for parasitic diseases.”

For a copy of the speech, call Carole Lewis at (212) 830-2472. To contact Swiss-American Chamber here, call Jane Meek at (678) 415-3201