[Ip-health] News: UN News Centre- Europe-India trade pact threatens medicines for millions of poor - UN expert

Terri Beswick Terri at haieurope.org
Mon Dec 13 04:08:27 PST 2010


Europe-India trade pact threatens medicines for millions of poor - UN
expert

 

10 December 2010 - A draft free trade agreement between the European
Union (EU) and India could deprive millions of people in the developing
world of life-saving and 

life-prolonging medicines, particularly the HIV-infected, an independent
United Nations human rights expert warned today, calling for its urgent
revision.

 

"The EU-India draft FTA, as it stands, places trade interests over human
rights," UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health Anand Grover said
in a news release.

 

"Millions in the developing world depend on India for generic medicines
at affordable costs. Restriction of generic drug production in India
will have a devastating public health impact around the world and
adversely affect the right to health of millions of patients."

 

He notes that India can now provide low-cost generic medicines thanks to
its intellectual property laws that allow for local generic production
of safe and efficacious medicines, but available leaked texts of the
draft FTA contain intellectual property provisions that go beyond
current obligations.

 

"If the intellectual property provisions remain in the FTA as drafted,
the production of generic medicines in India will be severely hampered,"
Mr. Grover said. "As a result, millions of people in India and around
the world may not be able to access to necessary, life-saving and
life-prolonging medicines.

 

"People living with HIV would be disproportionately affected, because
the majority of antiretroviral treatments used to treat HIV around the
world are provided through generic medicines produced in India."

 

Among provisions jeopardizing medicine supplies, he cited data
exclusivity, which prevents a country's drug regulatory authority from
relying on test data submitted by a first entrant to approve subsequent
generic versions of the medicine for a specified time. The introduction
of data exclusivity has been shown to delay and restrict market entry of
generic medicines and, as a result, increase prices and reduce access to
medicines.

 

The draft also calls for stronger intellectual property enforcement and
border control measures. Border seizures of non-infringing goods in
Europe over the past few years have demonstrated how such provisions
have delayed access to medicines for patients in other developing
countries.

 

Furthermore, the draft contains 'investment provisions' that would
effectively result in a State's having to pay compensation for
expropriation of property, where it has used such legal steps as
compulsory licensing. Such provisions would obviously deter a State from
using increasing access to medicines.

 

The UN Committee on Economic, Cultural, and Social Rights stresses that
State parties must respect the enjoyment of the right to health in other
countries, and take steps to ensure that international agreements do not
infringe or adversely impact on the right to health.

 

Mr. Grover, who reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council,
said the draft therefore may not be in compliance with this stipulation
and other international instruments on the right to health.

 

"Provisions pertaining to intellectual property in the draft FTA should
be urgently reconsidered," he urged.

 

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=37019&Cr=medicines&Cr1=




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