There is still a widespread misconception that non-communicable diseases such as diabetes are not relevant to poor people in developing countries. For these people, medicines for the treatment of such conditions are regarded almost as a luxury. Scientific evidence testifies to the contrary. Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes are escalating in developing countries. This is giving rise to severe economic as well as human consequences. An effective public health strategy for poor countries requires continued access to low-cost, high-quality generic medicines. However, new trade rules protecting intellectual property threaten to undermine the availability of the generic equivalents of much-needed new medicines.