SEATTLE - Although the World Trade Organization failed last week to reach an agenda for the next round of international trade negotiations, the U.S. and the European Community clearly opened the door to future campaigns against drug prices and profits through international trade law.

Three separate proposals were made at the WTO meeting here to increase poor countries' access to medicines by curtailing intellectual property rights, raising the prospect that patent rights will join drug prices as the focus of advocates who want access to pharmaceuticals to be treated as a moral rather than commercial issue.