While the European Commission increases pressure on the India, encouraging them to sign as soon as possible a free trade agreement, activists from all over Europe gathered in Brussels today to require the Commission to withdraw them provisions that will affect access to drugs in India and in developing countries. Civil society organizations know from different sources that enclosed the framework required in private negotiations, the European Commission exercises a significant pressure for greater control of the industry at the expense of public health, thereby threatening millions of lives.
"Following recent decisions in favour of public health in India, the EU is now doubly eager to close the pharmacy in developing countries" is the India while ensuring profits in its pharmaceutical industry remain intact ", said Leila Bodeux of Oxfam. "80% of drugs used to treat HIV in developing countries are produced in India. Thus, if the EU were to retain these harmful provisions in this agreement, the supply of products vital to millions of people would be cut. »
Under pressure from groups that defend access to health, certain provisions which affect access to medicines such as extensions of the duration of patents, have been removed from the originally proposed agreement. However, the clauses concerning the application of the rules of intellectual property (IP) and investment remain cause for concern, in particular views the imminence of a date end of negotiations early April deadline.
"This attack on the health of the poorest populations is very disturbing, especially the signing of the agreement is close and could take place in a few days," said Carl Schlyter, MEP ecologist. "The European Commission can not claim to work for the access to medicines and feel concerned by the health of the populations in developing countries, and at the same time try to impose stricter intellectual property provisions to the India."
"I urge the European Parliament to refuse these provisions, which will affect very many lives, before signing the final agreement."
"Some of the provisions of the free trade agreement are similar to those of ACTA, anti-counterfeiting agreement which was rejected through the citizen vigilance. '' "But these provisions are back: this is a problem that never goes away", said Lotti Rutter of Stop AIDS Campaign.
The implementing provisions can potentially block the production and export of drugs generic in India, yet vital for millions of people around the world. These provisions would open the door to practices that unreasonable on the part of the multinationals, by allowing drug shipments to be delayed, seized and destroyed.
Measures concerning the investment would see the Government of India (as well as third parties such as MSF, which provides treatment) be prosecuted by these multinationals billions of dollars if private arbitral courts national laws, policies, the decisions of justice or any other action are perceived as interfering with the protection of investments of such companies - for exampleIf an Indian Patent Office rejects or cancels a patent on a drug to allow better access.
As treatment providers we are worried about the impact of these measures if they are endorsed. Not only they are going to rush in the Tomb drugs at low prices and quality on which MSF has to treat patients around the world, but in addition we would be dragged into legal disputes simply using generic drugs. The EU must abandon all the provisions that threaten the public health in each of its trade negotiations,"said Katy Athersuch, MSF access campaign.
The conclusion anticipated early April India-EU free trade agreement raised many challenges in Asia, Europe and Africa, the continent which risk losing the most in this agreement.
This agreement is the latest in a long list of negotiations through which the EU seeks to impose provisions strengthening intellectual property in developing countries. The EU is currently engaged in free trade agreements with the India, ASEAN, the Malaysia, the Ukraine and the Thailand, and plans to other agreements with the Morocco, the Tunisia and Egypt, to name a few.
"We are very concerned; in our area, people living with HIV benefit of generic antiretroviral drugs imported from India, said Othman Martin of the International Coalition for the treatment preparedness in the Middle East and North Africa (ITPC - MENA). "Such an agreement between Europe and the India will have disastrous consequences and prevent access to essential medicines in our region; This is why we call on the European Commission to stop this trade policy that benefits only the major pharmaceutical companies and that affects many people in developing countries. » Notes to publishers free trade agreement EU-India is negotiating since 2007. From the outset, the European Commission has made every effort to include provisions that would fix the ability of Indian generics industry to provide drugs at affordable prices for millions of people in developing countries.
The dangerous provisions of the India-EU free trade agreement include:
- Implementing provisions that could lead the generic drug to not be able to get out of India, and therefore does not reach patients in developing countries, on the mere allegation of a violation of patent or trademark. This could also lead to treatment providers in legal disputes simply because they distribute generic drugs to patients.
- The part "investment" of the free trade agreement would expand the capacity of companies to sue the Government Indian when it regulates health in the public interest, for example in rejecting a patent to expand access to a drug, or else through the control of prices of medicines. These conflicts would be settled outside national jurisdictions in secret courts of arbitration, with the key of large sums of money in compensation. Due to provisions for investment in other free trade agreements, such conflicts have already erupted and been brought before arbitral tribunals by companies against Governments, hoping to force public health policies to turn back (Phillip Morris vs. Uruguay). Companies say that such policies lead to an alleged "expropriation" of their investments and profits.
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