[Ip-health] EC for trade woken up by Act Up-Paris : hands off our medicines !

Jérôme Martin jeromemartin at samizdat.net
Sun Jul 3 00:11:18 PDT 2011


Will Karel De Gucht be responsible for millions deaths ?

This morning, in a small town in the region of Gent, Belgium, activists
from Act Up-Paris woke up the European Commissioner for Trade in front
of his house. They unfurled a banner which said ‘De Gucht, AIDS
accomplice’. Karel De Gucht did answer on the phone but was sleepy and
did not want to go out to talk to us. Because he didn’t answer, they
made noise and chanted slogans such as ‘De Gucht, hands off our
medicines’ and ‘De Gucht, AIDS war criminal, you have blood on your

For months now, the European Commission (E.C.) has been negotiating
trade agreements, which, if signed, will have a dramatic impact for
people living with HIV in developing world. While State members’
governments hardly manage to define a clear mandate to the European
Commission within the frame of these agreements, the real decision-maker
is, in the fact, the European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht.

‘Assaulting generic medicine is assaulting access to health and access
to care for hundred of thousands of people worldwide. As M. De Gucht has
been, so far, indifferent to people living with HIV, we have decided to
wake him up. Sunday or not, access to treatments cannot wait’ said
Pauline Londeix, from Act Up-Paris.

Act Up-Paris calls on the European Commission to immediately stop the
negotiations of the Trade Agreements that are nowadays threatening the
production and the exportation of lower cost generic drugs. Generic
medicines are indeed critical to ensure access to life-saving medicine
in the developing world. Moreover, these medicines are essential if
countries want to be able to achieve the commitments they took at the
United Nations two weeks ago, to scale-up access to treatments for
people with HIV, and to reach 15 million people worldwide with access to
antiretroviral therapies by 2015. [1]

In these trade agreements negotiated by the E.C. with developing
countries, the European Commission imposes a template and holds a
hard-line, no matter which country they are negotiating with. E.C.
consistently asks for an extension of the patent term to 10 years (30
years for exclusivity) as well as an increase of the data exclusivity of
10 years.

The most well known agreement is the one negotiated with India, the
first country producing generic medicines in the world. However, the
E.C. has also made plans to start many other Free Trade Agreements with
MERCOSUR, and many South-East Asian and African countries. Within these
agreements, the E.C even imposes some parts of the ACTA
(Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement). ACTA is another agreement that
was negotiated by the European Commission, for 3 years, jointly with
other northern countries, and only three developing countries
(Singapore, Mexico and Morocco).

This agreement, that will be presented to the European Parliament within
the next months, sidesteps all the existing international organizations
(WTO, WHO, WIPO, WCO) and threatens to harm cheap generic drugs’s
exportations and fabrication. Karel de Gucht supervises all these

The European Commissioner for Trade is irresponsible. Because of his
defense of the interests of Big Pharma’s European industries, such as
Sanofi-Aventis and GlaxoSmithKline, he sacrifices the life of millions
of people. Europe has been pushing Free Trade Agreements that force drug
monopolies on poor countries, whatever the consequences are in
developing countries. The hunting to generic medicines has lasted long
enough. It is now time for E.U. to show less murderous cynicism and more
pragmatism if it really wants to save lives.


[1] http://www.un.org/en/

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