[Ip-health] MSF: Seven Years On, ?August 30 Decision? Has Failed to Improve Access to Medicines and Remains Virtually Unused

thiru at keionline.org thiru at keionline.org
Thu Oct 28 05:00:26 PDT 2010

Seven Years On, ?August 30 Decision? Has Failed to Improve Access to
Medicines and Remains Virtually Unused

WTO Must Reform the Rules

Geneva, 27 October 2010 ? As the World Trade Organization?s TRIPS Council
meets in Geneva today to discuss how to improve a system intended to help
countries without medicines manufacturing capacity get access to affordable
medicines, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urges governments to revise an
agreement that has proven entirely ineffective and unworkable.

?The August 30 Decision was supposed to help countries without drug
manufacturing capacity access affordable medicines ? but the system is so
complicated that seven years on, we see that virtually nobody has been able
to benefit from it,? said Michelle Childs, Director of Policy Advocacy at
MSF?s Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines.  ?MSF?s experience shows
that the system is so cumbersome and full of red tape for both parties that
want to export and import medicines, that it acts as a major disincentive.?

When a medicine is patented, a country has the right under international
trade rules to issue a compulsory license to overcome the patent, in order
to begin production and ensure access to more affordable medicines for its
population.  But many countries do not have the ability to make their own
medicines.  In order for them to be able to access affordable medicines
from elsewhere, the WTO adopted a decision on August 30 2003 that allows a
country with manufacturing capacity to issue a compulsory license, in order
to export a medicine to a country that does not have that capacity. But the
system adds complex and unnecessary burdens on developing countries with no
manufacturing capacity, and makes the system unworkable.

MSF attempted to test the feasibility of the system and worked for several
years to encourage a Canadian generic company to develop a patented AIDS
medicine for MSF to use in its projects.  MSF ultimately had to withdraw
from the process because of the considerable delays.  Seven years on, a
compulsory license for export has been issued only once, for a drug that
was exported from Canada to Rwanda in 2008.

?All of the big generic producing countries are now granting patents on
medicines, so we desperately need to see a solution for countries that will
need to rely on this mechanism to access essential medicines. It?s about
time governments acted on the fact that what they have put in place is a
failure,? added Childs.

For further information, please contact:
Guillaume Bonnet, MSF + 41 79 203 1302

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