The health crisis in developing countries (Cecilia Oh)
has been worldwide concern over the high prices of drugs and medicines.
More than anything else, it is the current health crisis in the developing
countries, which has aroused public interest in this issue.
Patents and monopoly prices (Cecilia Oh)
patents, by conferring a monopoly on drug companies in the production
and distribution of the patented drug, enable them to charge exorbitant
prices for their products. The TRIPS Agreement of the WTO (a body avowedly
dedicated to trade liberalisation) sanctions this anti-competitive behaviour.
Patents vs. patients: AIDS, TNCs and drug price wars (Kavaljit Singh)
international campaign for affordable medicines which compelled the drug
TNCs to drop their lawsuit against the South African government has stripped
the veil shrouding the practice of price-fixing by these corporations.
The AIDS drugs price war which the campaign triggered off has also served
to highlight the benefits that accrue from generic competition.
Developing countries call for action on TRIPS at Doha WTO Ministerial Conference(Cecilia Oh)
extreme urgency of the situation caused by the high prices of drugs resulting
from the WTO’s patent regime prompted developing countries (led by the
Africa Group) to seek a special meeting in the WTO’s TRIPS Council. The
following is a report on the proceedings at this special one-day session
held in Geneva on 20 June.
TRIPS and public health
The following is the text of the submission by a group of developing
countries - the Africa Group, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Dominican
Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Pakistan,
Paraguay, Philippines, Peru, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Venezuela - to
the TRIPS Council for the Special Discussion on intellectual property
and access to medicines on 20 June.
US opposed to moves to address public health concerns about TRIPS (C. Oh)
US is blocking developing countries’ efforts to address the negative impact
of the TRIPS Agreement on access to medicines by attempting to restrict
ongoing discussions in the WTO to only the HIV/AIDS problem.
The Africa Group's proposals
A set of proposals by the Africa Group on TRIPS and public
Patents and medicines: The WTO must act now!
following is the text of a joint NGO statement on the Special Discussion
in the WTO TRIPS Council on patents and access to affordable medicines.
The statement was endorsed by over 100 NGOs and issued in Geneva on 19
June at a media conference organised by Oxfam, Medecins Sans Frontieres
and Third World Network.
Ensuring access to affordable medicines: 10 proposals for clarification of TRIPS (Martin Jalleh)
Developing countries must be guaranteed the ability to take
measures to protect public health and promote access to affordable
medicines. The TRIPS Council discussions on the TRIPS Agreement and
public health have been addressing growing concerns that TRIPS has
hindered access to affordable medicines. The forthcoming WTO Ministerial
Conference in Doha, Qatar in November will also afford WTO Members
an opportunity to take measures to ensure that the TRIPS Agreement
does not undermine public health policies. Above, outlined by Martin
Jalleh, are the Third World Network’s recommendations for action by
WTO Members, including proposals for clarification and interpretation
and, where required, revision of the TRIPS Agreement.
Developing countries have right to enact compulsory-licensing laws, says UN report (Marwaan Macan-Markar)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has, in its latest Human Development
Report, called on developing countries to enact compulsory-licensing laws
which will permit local companies to produce cheaper generic copies of
patented drugs. Such licensing laws are not a violation of the WTO TRIPS
NGOs disappointed with WHO-WTO workshop on drug pricing (C.Raghavan)
WHO-WTO workshop on ‘Affordable medicines for poor countries’ held in
Norway in April was a response to the growing campaign of public interest
NGOs of the North and the South about the mounting evidence of a runaway
global monopoly intellectual property system in the WTO that is curbing
the rights of national governments without countervailing international
state power or resources to offset the welfare losses of the poor.
Differential pricing of drugs to help people - or corporations? (C.Raghavan)
current move by the WTO, the EU and certain sections of the pharmaceutical
industry to promote differential pricing as a solution to the problem
of inaccessibility of medicines by the poor nations raises fears of a
hidden agenda: a calculated move to change the TRIPS Agreement to prevent
parallel imports and compulsory licensing.
A letter to the WHO (Ralph Nader)
a letter to Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, the Director-General of the World
Health Organisation, US consumer activist, Ralph Nader, has criticized
the organization for failing to exercise effective leadership on the critical
issue of access to medicines and, more generally, on the expanded use
of generic drugs. We reproduce below the full text of the letter dated
23 July 2001.
Report links high drug prices to marketing costs, executive payouts and profits
new report by a US consumer health organisation has challenged drug industry
claims that high drug prices are necessary for research and development.
Dying for 'free trade' (Aileen Kwa)
the Thai Food and Drug Administration took the necessary legislative steps
to sanction the production of generic drugs within a shorter time lag
after the release of the branded versions, it felt the full brunt of pressure
from Washington. Fortunately, Thai activists have rallied in support of
the government in its effort to ensure access to cheaper medicines.
For affordable medicines (Sukumar Muralidharan)
recent symposium held in New Delhi on making medicines affordable to the
poor revealed a differing approach to that of the WTO TRIPS Agreement
in resolving the problem. Whilst one group held that the future of health
care called for the delegitimising of TRIPS, another advocated utilising
all the room formanoeuvre
within the accord, including its provision for compulsory licensing.