[Ip-health] United States trade policy undermines access to antiretroviral medicines
mkamalyanni at Oxfam.org.uk
Mon Jul 23 15:42:16 PDT 2012
July 23, 2012
International AIDS Conference 2012 Washington D.C. ? Despite commitment to
End AIDS, the US government is introducing stronger intellectual property
rules through trade agreements and bilateral pressure that will undermine
the fight against AIDS by devastating the ability of developing countries
to access affordable anti-retroviral medicines, international agency Oxfam
?Under the influence of the multinational pharmaceutical industry, the US
is pushing for enhanced monopoly protection on new medicines, including
medicines to treat HIV and AIDS, thus driving up the cost for people
living in poverty,? said Dr. Mohga Kamal-Yanni, senior health advisor for
Oxfam. ?Neither patients nor governments will be able to pay for
anti-retroviral medicines urgently needed to address the pandemic.?
Strict intellectual property rules prevent low-cost generic versions of
medicines from entering the market. Generic competition is the only proven
mechanism for lowering prices. The US has pushed for stricter intellectual
property rules especially via a new trade agreement ? the Trans Pacific
Partnership, which is currently being negotiated between the United States
and eight other countries in the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America,
with Mexico and Canada projected to join soon.
The US has also sought to push other countries to implement enhanced
monopoly protection via its annual Special 301 Report, which harshly
criticizes countries that use legal measures under global trade rules to
reduce unaffordable medicine prices ? a critical pre-requisite to
Without low-cost generics, it would not have been possible to initiate
over eight million people on anti-retroviral therapy. Until generics
entered the market over a decade ago, anti-retroviral therapy cost $10,000
per patient per year. Thanks to generic competition, the price for
first-line medicines in preferred fixed-dose combinations now costs under
$80 per patient per year.
Donors, including the United States Government, have relied heavily upon
low-cost generic medicines to meet ambitious treatment goals.
?Despite all the successes ? including of the US ? to address the
pandemic, narrow commercial interests are threatening to undue the recent
gains,? said Kamal-Yanni. ?It is stranger than fiction that the US is
pursuing strict IP rules in developing countries such as Vietnam, which is
one of 16 countries that receives assistance under the US Global AIDS
The renewed US drive for strict IP rules through trade agreements is
coming at an especially inopportune moment. Scientific consensus has
pointed to treatment as a great route to prevention of HIV and AIDS. Yet
donor financing for HIV and AIDS, in the aftermath of the global financial
crisis, is leveling off even as the challenges remain enormous. In
particular, the costs of new and more effective treatments for HIV, many
of which remain under monopoly patent protection, are as much as 10 or
even 50 times the cost of first-line treatments. These high costs not only
threaten to undermine the ongoing treatment of over eight million people,
some of whom must switch to these new medicines as they develop resistance
to first line medicines, but will hinder governments and funding agencies
from expanding treatment to millions of others who desperately need it. At
a time when more must be done with less, US trade policy threatens to put
the drive for universal access into reverse.
?To end AIDS, countries need to scale up access to affordable medicines,?
said Kamal-Yanni. ?The US must stop demanding new intellectual property
rules through trade agreements and direct pressure.?
For further inquiry:
Laura Rusu in Washington, DC +1 202-459-3739 LRUSU at oxfamamerica.org
Notes to editors:
For more information, or to arrange an interview with an Oxfam
spokesperson, please use contact above or Mohga Kamal-Yanni, on
mkamalyanni at oxfam.org.uk +44 77 76 25 58 84.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a pluri-lateral trade agreement currently
under negotiation between the United States and eight other countries ?
Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and
Brunei ? with Mexico and Canada expected to join soon. Negotiations
started in 2009 and have not yet been completed.
Some of the strict intellectual property rules the US has pursued under
the Trans Pacific Partnership include:
1. Scope of patentability: Expanded scope of pharmaceutical patents
to include new indications, new formulations and other minor changes
2. Patent-term extensions: Extended patent monopolies for
3. Enhanced protections for clinical trial data by providing data
4. Patent linkage: Linking drug registration rights to patent status
5. Enforcement rules: Expands enforcement of IP via customs and
border officers, which could lead to unwarranted seizures of generic
6. Pre-grant oppositions: Eliminates right of other countries to use
opposition system to curb frivolous patent applications and patent abuse.
The US is also negotiating a chapter on pharmaceutical pricing and
reimbursement that would disable the ability of Governments, including the
US Government, to effectively set prices for medicines.
The May 10th (2007) Agreement was a new trade policy, agreed upon by the
Bush Administration and the US Congress, to rewrite environment, labor and
intellectual property rules in free trade agreements with Peru, Colombia
and Panama. New IP provisions included in the May 10th Agreement scaled
back many of the worst elements in those agreements that would have
undermined access to affordable medicines.
The international confederation of Oxfam [http://www.oxfam.org] is a group
of independent non-governmental organizations from Australia, Belgium,
Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico,
the Netherlands, New Zealand, Quebec, Spain, the UK and the US.
Mohga -dictating to the computer so please forgive silly mistakes
Dr. Mohga M Kamal-Yanni
Senior health & HIV policy advisor
John Smith Drive, Oxford, OX4 2 JY
Tel +44(0) 1865 472290
UK Mobile + 44 (0)777 62 55 884
Skype Mohga Kamal-Yanni
Oxfam works with others to overcome poverty and suffering.
Oxfam GB is a member of Oxfam International and a company limited by guarantee registered in England No. 612172.
Registered office: Oxfam House, John Smith Drive, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2JY.
A registered charity in England and Wales (no 202918) and Scotland (SC 039042)
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