[Ip-health] Patent Pool / Threats on Generic Drugs: Double-play Led by France Must Stop

Jérôme Martin jeromemartin at samizdat.net
Mon Jul 18 07:00:59 PDT 2011

ACT UP PARIS Press Release -- Monday, July 18th 2011


CONTACT Pauline Londeix: +33 6 47 98 48 58  • pauline.londeix at gmail.com

Jérôme Martin: +33 6 84 47 20 92  • jeromemartin at samizdat.net


Paris — At the July 17 launch of the world’s largest scientific
conference on HIV/AIDS in Rome, Act Up-Paris denounces the double-play
led by the French Presidency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA)
pandering to major pharmaceutical companies. Act Up expresses grave
concern about the future of the access to life-saving generic medicines
for developing countries.


Last Tuesday 12 July, the pharmaceutical company Gilead announced a deal
with the UNITAID-sponsored Medicines Patent Pool. In a press statement,
the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the government was delighted
at this agreement. 


However, the deal excludes 5 million people living with HIV.


Meanwhile, the European Commission (E.C.), with the silent support of
the President Sarkozy, MoFA, along with the French Ministries of Health,
Economics and Finance, have been pushing trade policies (including free
trade and so-called anti-counterfeiting agreements) that aim to block
the fabrication and the export of generic drugs. Without low-cost
medicine, global commitments to achieve Universal Access to treatment
will not be reachable.


[Gilead excludes many countries from the Patent Pool.]


The UNITAID Patent Pool is going to exclude many countries, including
China, Brazil, Russia, Malaysia, Mexico, Northern Africa & Eastern
Europe Regions and most South American countries. In addition, some
other countries as Thailand, Botswana, Indonesia and many others will
not have access to the new molecules being developed by Gilead. In
total, 5 million people living with HIV will be excluded from the Patent
Pool. Moreover, the agreement will exclude countries with important
generic manufacturing capacity, and limit the production of medicines to
Indian generic firms, thus restricting competition that lower the price
of drugs. Gilead has placed limits in excess of WTO rules to prohibit
local production in poor countries.


The exclusion of all these countries in the first deal between a drug
company and the Patent Pool constitutes a dangerous precedent that risks
limiting the scope of the programme.


[Gilead's announcement can’t hide the war against generic medicine.]


The launch of UNITAID's Patent Pool is taking place during a time of
sustained assault against low cost generic drugs. For months, the
European Commission has been negotiating so-called ‘free’ trade
agreements with developing countries that impose longer monopolies for
European industries. If the EC succeeds, the ultimate consequence is a
considerable increase the cost of health care in countries poor
countries struggling with health emergencies. A Free Trade Agreement
with India, the 'pharmacy for the world’s poor' threatens the ability of
local generic producers to produce and export critically needed
medicines that form the backbone of the global AIDS response.


Other negotiations underway with many Asian and African countries will
have additional harmful consequences on production and export of
generics, while restricting the ability of governments to use the
flexibilities afforded by WTO’s TRIPS rules in intellectual property and
deny country’s rights to issue compulsory licences. The
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), intentionally does not
distinguish the difference between fake medicines and quality-assured
generic drugs, empowering enthusiastic customs and border control
officers to seize shipments of essential medicines and create drug
shortages in southern countries.


'Activists and international agencies such as the Global Fund[1] and
WHO[2] have said for months that these agreements will be very harmful
to the production and export of generic medicines. The EU is trying to
impose trade deals that protect  European firms from competition by
extending their patent monopolies,’ said Pauline Londeix, Act Up-Paris
spoke-person. ‘The 'victory' of the Patent Pool is also very relative,
since so many countries are kept out. Worse, the irony is that medicines
provided by UNITAID thanks to this agreement could be seized at boarders
and destroyed for patent infringement,' continued Ms. Londeix.


In June, France committed at a U.N. meeting in New York that at least 15
million people will be on antiretroviral therapies (ART) by 2015[3] . 


‘Sarkozy must end his hypocrisy right now, or we can say goodbye to the
commitments France made at the U.N. High Level Meeting on AIDS this
June,’ said former Act Up president Jérôme Martin. ‘Instead of showing
more pragmatism and put as most people as possible on ART today, Sarkozy
seeks policies for the HIV pandemic to become forever out of control.
Increasing French contribution to the global struggle to reach 15 by 15
would be enough to reverse the pandemic and to reverse the cost curve,
while ensuring a place in history when AIDS is over. But instead,
Sarkozy and his gang are only focusing on the huge benefits made by the
pharmaceutical industry—letting millions of people die.


[The French President stalls people with AIDS and try to play both


During a meeting with AIDS NGOs and in a letter sent to Act Up-Paris[4],
Nicolas Sarkozy reasserted few months ago his support to generic
medicines and promised to organize an 'Inter-Ministerial' meeting on the
issue. But months later, we are still waiting, and none of the
ministries, from the Avenue de Ségur (Minister of Health) to the Quai
d'Orsay (MoFA) via Bercy (Ministry of Economics and Finances) has taken
any position to support generics.


Despite numerous calls and mails sent by activists, Christian Masset,
Director of Globalization and Development at the MoFA, Hervé Ladsous,
Chief of Cabinet of Alain Juppé, the Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Olivier Colom, the Diplomatic Councilor of Nicolas Sarkozy, Mathieu
Gressier, the Chief of Cabinet and Diplomatic Adviser of Xavier
Bertrand, the Minister of Social Affairs, are pleased with the current
situation and tacitly or actively support free trade agreements and the
anti-counterfeiting deals that threaten the lives of millions people.


Nicolas Sarkozy, Alain Juppé, Xavier Bertrand and François Baroin have
to come to their senses and end this deadly hypocritical policy. Their
lack of courage endangers many of the efforts led so far to stamp out
HIV pandemic.


Act Up-Paris urges:

-            For an 'inter-ministries meeting' to be organized without
delay, and that France call to order the European Commission on its

-            That Nicolas Sarkozy, during the IAS conference on AIDS in
Rome, publicly reaffirms his support for generics and his opposition to
all provisions within trade agreements being negotiated by the E.C. that
will hinder the production and exportation of generics.


Act Up-Paris also urges all the countries excluded of the Gilead/UNITAID
agreement to issue without delay compulsory licences on the drugs they
need to control Aids including those produced by the firm, as
international law allow them to.


[Annexe: full list of the countries excluded of the Patent Pool/Gilead


1- Countries excluded from the Patent Pool/Gilead deal for Gilead's
drugs already on the market:

Asia: Malaysia, North Korea, China, Philippines

Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru,
Uruguay, Venezuela

Central America: Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, 

Middle East: Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan

Eastern Europe & Baltics: Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria,
Croatia, Czech Rep, Estonia, Hungary,  Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro,
Poland, Republic of Kosovo, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia,
Serbia, Slovak Rep, Turkey, Ukraine

Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya 

Island Nations: Marshall Islands, Micronesia


2- Countries that will be excluded from the Patent Pool for Gilead drugs
still in trials:


Asia: Malaysia, North Korea, China, Philippines, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka,
Thailand, Turkmenistan, Indonesia

Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru,
Uruguay, Venezuela, Ecuador, El Salvador

Central America: Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama

Middle East : Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan

Eastern Europe & Baltics: Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria,
Croatia, Czech Rep, Estonia, Hungary,  Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro,
Poland, Republic of Kosovo, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia,
Serbia, Slovak Rep, Turkey, Ukraine.

Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya + Botswana + Namibia

Island Nations: Marshall Islands, Micronesia



[2] http://www.actupparis.org/spip.php?article4432

[3] http://www.actupparis.org/spip.php?article4585

[4] Download the letter on Act Up-Paris website :

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