[Ip-health] Thai NGOs Join the Global Campaign against the EU’s Trade Negotiation, calling the EU to hand off their medicines”

Kannikar K. kakablueblue at gmail.com
Fri Feb 10 02:29:23 PST 2012

Thai NGOs Join the Global Campaign against the EU’s Trade Negotiation, calling the EU to hand off their medicines”
February 10, 2012
Non-government organizations joined forces with people living with HIV globally urging the European Union (EU) to stop pressuring the Indian government to accept the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that undermined the generic-drug industry at the EU-India Summit held in New Delhi on February 10. Thai civil society groups joined in the global campaign by running their social media campaign.
Mr.Chalermsak Kittitrakul, Campaign Officers of AIDS Access Foundation, revealed that the EU-India Summit was taking place this weekend and it was expected the trade deal between the European Union and India would reach conclusion at the Summit.  The European Union had constantly put pressures on the Indian government to sign the Free Trade Agreement with intellectual property (IP) restrictions stricter than the international IP agreement of the World Trade Organization, known as TRIPS Agreement. 
With such restrictions, the Indian generic-medicine industry would be greatly undermined and millions of people in developing countries, who relied on affordable generic medicines, would be severely at risk. 
“India is the biggest generic-drug manufacturer country who supplies 80% of essential medicines to the developing world, especially antiretroviral medicines. Thailand is a country that provides essential medicines (e.g. AIDS, heart-disease, and cancer drugs) supplied by the Indian manufacturers to millions of patients in their national health insurance systems. However, the European Union is shutting down the “pharmacy” of the developing world and clipping off the lifeline of million patients whose lives depend on the live-saving medicines at affordable prices from India.
In Thailand, the civil society groups working on access to treatment, led by the Thai Network of People Living with HIV & AIDS, is running a public campaign against the unfair trade deal negotiation.  We call the public to join the action by sending faxes or emails expressing their concerns to the Delegation of the European to Thailand.  We also invite people to be a part of our social media campaign by posting photos with messages of “EU Hands off Our Medicines”, “Stop FTA”, and “Stop Undermining Generic Medicines” on the EU’s social media webpage http://www.facebook.com/EUinThailand .  The action aimed to demand the EU’s trade commissioner to reverse its positions and commit to supporting access to medicines for all.”
The key provisions in the EU Free Trade Agreement that the global civil society seriously concerned about are:
·        Patent term extension, which will prolong the patents longer than 20 years as required by the WTO’s TRIPS Agreement. 
·        Data exclusivity, which will make registration of generic versions of medicines difficult.
·        Enforcement provisions, which require India’s Executive and Judiciary to prioritise the enforcement of private patent rights and which will effectively deter generic competition.
·        Border measures, which will make export of medicines from India to other developing countries difficult, if not impossible.
Then, they repeat the same old lie after being bombarded in their social media.

EU - India Free Trade Agreement

On 10 February the 12th European Union-India Summit is taking place in New Delhi. One of the subjects on the agenda is the ongoing negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement. Also on 10 February, a number of Thai NGOs have addressed an open letter to the Ambassador of the European Union David LIPMAN raising concerns over the impact that a possible EU-India free Trade Agreement might have on the access developing countries have to 'generic' medicines. In response to these concerns, Ambassador David LIPMAN has issued the following statement:

'The EU is fully committed to ensuring access to essential, affordable medicines especially for the less developed parts of the world. The concerns about such access are certainly legitimate but the allegations put forward are not fully founded with regard to the reality of our negotiations with India (and other developing countries).

We are not asking for provisions which would be contrary to the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health. We are not trying to limit the capacity of key generic producers to export to other developing countries. The provisions of the FTA, including those on patents, will be consistent with the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health and will not impair the capacity of either India or the EU to promote access to medicines.

The EU fully recognizes India's right to issue compulsory licensing for medicines and has no intention of weakening India's capacity to manufacture and export medicines to other developing countries, including Thailand.

On the contrary, the EU has put forward a clause in the negotiations to ensure that nothing in the proposed agreement would limit India's freedom to produce and export medicines in accordance with the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement and the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, notably through compulsory licensing ( compulsory licensing is when a government allows someone else to produce the patented product or process without the consent of the patent owner).

Furthermore, the EU-India FTA will not interfere with the trade of generic medicines in transit. As regards the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), we believe that it can contribute to curbing the trade and sale of counterfeited medicines (often toxic or ineffective at best) and therefore support public health objectives. Parties to this agreement, including Thailand have already publicly declared that ACTA will not hinder the cross-border transit of legitimate generic medicines.

An adequate protection of intellectual property is crucial to encourage an innovative industry for the development of new medicines and to create a level playing-field for the industry as a whole, while also taking into account interests related to public health protection. Promoting access to medicines is an essential pillar of the EU's policy on intellectual property rights and this is taken fully into account in the negotiations with India and other trading partners.

The IPR chapter of the FTA with India is still under negotiation and the final outcome will only include elements both parties agree on.

The EU remains open to engage in constructive dialogue with civil society organisations and other stakeholders in the framework of its external trade policy.'

Kannikar Kijtiwatchakul
kakablue at yahoo.com
T(+66) 2 218 8445
F(+66) 2 251 3531
M(+66) 89 500 3217

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