[Ip-health] FGEP (Argentina), ABIA & GTPI (Brazil) on UN HLP report & the "Drop the case" campaign

Pauline Londeix pauline.londeix at gmail.com
Wed Sep 14 22:09:18 PDT 2016

Press release - September 15th 2016

Fundación Grupo Efecto Positivo (FGEP) -  Associação Brasileira
Interdisciplinar de AIDS (ABIA) - Grupo de Trabalho sobre Propriedade
Intelectual (GTPI)

United Nations’ High Level Panel on Access to Medicines Report released:

Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, September 15th, 2016 -

The United Nation’s High Level Panel (UN HLP) on Access to Medicines
released yesterday its final report. The Panel was mandated in
November 2015 by UN’s Secretary-General Mr. Ban-Ki Moon to find
solutions for the “incoherence” between human rights and public health
and rules on intellectual property that hinders innovation and access
to medicines. Although the recommendations of the report could have
been stronger, it clearly recommends the use of pro public health
safeguards to promote the human right to health. The report describes
some of the challenges faced by countries to make use of those
safeguards, however it fails on addressing the responsibility of
pharmaceutical companies.

Court cases filed by Big Pharma in Brazil and Argentina are
threatening the access to medicines, and acting against the
recommendations of the UN HLP.

Brazil and Argentina have adopted public health safeguards in their
national laws to reduce the negative impacts of intellectual property
rules on access to medicines. These measures are strongly recommended
by the UN HLP report released yesterday. However, Big Pharma has filed
court cases challenging these pro-public health provisions in both

Civil society organizations in Argentina and Brazil have launched a
joint campaign to fight back Big Pharma’s attacks. Fundación Grupo
Efecto Positivo (FGEP), Associação Brasileira Interdisciplinar de AIDS
(ABIA) & Grupo de Trabalho sobre Propriedade Intelectual (GTPI) are
calling for Interfarma and CAEME to cease their attack on Brazil and
Argentina for using their right to ensure the access to health of
their population and to protect them from the abuses of pharmaceutical

Both countries have adopted universal public health programs that
guarantee free distribution of essential medicines to all. In order to
secure the access to these medicines, there is a need to ensure
sustainable prices for the health systems. While the UN’s HLP report
acknowledges that high pricing of medicines is an obstacle for access
to medicines and that patents create obstacles to public health
objectives, the report fails in going further and acknowledging the
responsibility of transnational pharmaceutical companies in respecting
public policies that aims to reduce those obstacles and trying to
shape laws to put their profits before people’s rights.

In 2014 and 2015, the associations of transnational pharmaceutical
companies (Interfarma - Associação da Indústria Farmacêutica de
Pesquisa in Brazil and CAEME - Cámara Argentina de Especialidades
Medicinales in Argentina) went to court suing the national governments
for adopting pro public health measures in intellectual property laws
in the two countries. In Argentina, Big Pharma is challenging the
national patent examination guidelines. In Brazil, the major
pharmaceutical companies are challenging the participation of health
authorities in the analysis of pharmaceutical patent applications
(known as “ANVISA’s prior consent”). Both provisions aim to avoid the
granting of unmerited patents, that is, those that do not fulfill the
patentability requirements established under international and
national laws. Those provisions were strongly recommended by the UN
HLP and have shown over the years to be critical to enable access to

If the corporation’s associations succeed, millions of people in our
countries will be threatened to be left without access to low cost
generics and prevent the universal access to medicines programs
adopted in both countries. The consequences on public expenditures
will also be dramatic. So far, low cost generic medicines have been
the only way to ensure the access to key essential medicines in our
countries given the very high prices set by originator companies in
middle income and high income countries.

As the dramatic increases on the price of new medicines is linked to
the way pharmaceutical patents are examined and granted, Brazil and
Argentina have created strict standards and procedures for patent
examination in the pharmaceutical sector and have successfully blocked
several undeserved patents, ensuring generic competition and price
reductions. The HLP report states that “TRIPS flexibilities – for
example, the freedom to determine patentability criteria (…) can
ensure that patents are only awarded for genuine innovation. (…) Many
governments have not used the flexibilities available under the TRIPS
Agreement for various reasons ranging from capacity constraints to
undue political and economic pressure from states and corporations,
both express and implied” (p.8). The court cases filed by
transnational pharmaceutical companies association in Brazil and in
Argentina are a concrete illustration of the political and economical
pressures mentioned in the HLP report.

The protection of the public health safeguards available under the
Brazilian and the Argentinean laws is now more important than ever to
ensure access to medicines. The HLP report explicitly recommends
countries to “make full use of the policy space available in Article
27 of the TRIPS Agreement by adopting and applying rigorous
definitions of invention and patentability that are in the best
interests of the public health of the country and its inhabitants.
This includes amending laws to curtail the evergreening of patents and
awarding patents only when genuine innovation has occurred” (p.9).

But how can the right to health be protected when governments who try
to implement this recommendation are being sued by pharmaceutical
companies? The current cases faced by Brazil and Argentina represent a
good example of “general countries applying a public health-based
interpretation of patentability criteria have faced pressure against
such an interpretation and application in their national laws” (p.22).

The court cases filed by pharmaceutical companies in Argentina and
Brazil are a violation of the human right to health and a disrespect
to the sovereignty of countries to adopt measures to protect the
public health, as recognized once again in the UN’s HLP report. As
such, international community should join forces to demand Big Pharma
to respect the right of countries to adopt measures to protect
people’s rights.

Join the “Drop the case” campaign, and demand Interfarma and CAEME to
drop the cases!

Media contacts:

In Argentina : Nicolás Miranda - +54 11 5858 0499 - comunicacion at fgep.org
In Brazil : Felipe Fonseca - +55 11 2221-1040 - secretaria.gtpi at abiaids.org.br
For the international campaign : Pauline Londeix, +33 6 47 98 48 58 -
pauline.londeix at gmail.com

The “Drop the case” campaign on social medias :

On twitter : @Dropthecase2016 -
On facebook : facebook.com/dropthecase2016
Website : http://www.redlam.org/
Online petition :

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