The Morocco-US Free Trade Agreement: A Death Sentence for Moroccan Patients and the Local Pharmaceutical Industry.

Act Up-Paris
November 4, 2003

The 5th round of negotiations of a free trade agreement between Morocco and the United States has just ended. This agreement, which is to be signed before the end of the year, represents an unprecedented threat for Moroccan patients as well as for the local pharmaceutical industry.

The WTO Agreements already require Intellectual Property protection standards from the WTO Member States. WHO and IMF experts, among others, have demonstrated that these agreements will have a disastrous impact on health in developing countries. Right now, no satisfactory solution has been found to limit the serious consequences of these WTO Agreements.

Despite all this and at the expense of the populations of developing countries, the US has adopted a new strategy to increase the protection level of pharmaceutical monopolies: the US is trying to impose its intellectual property demands through bilateral and regional agreements. Such efforts come on top of the continuous pressure on developing countries at the WTO. These demands greatly exceed the WTO standards and compel developing countries to accept protection systems for monopolies, which are much more restrictive than those in rich countries.

Morocco, as well as many other countries (South Africa, Thailand, countries in Central America and South America) are confronted with these incredible and unacceptable requirements. As a matter of fact, there are clauses which not only aim at reinforcing the monopoly position of pharmaceutical giants, but also extend patent duration and exclusive rights.

Thus the US forces developing countries to waive rights for which they have fought so hard at the WTO: the right to grant compulsory licences and the freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licences are granted, the right to resort to parallel imports freely at the global level, the right to market generic drugs after 20 years of patent protection, the right of national regulation authorities to register generic drugs on the basis of the registration files of original products, without requiring new clinical tests, etc.

To maintain a highly profitable activity without actually coming up with therapeutic innovations, the only strategy of the pharmaceutical industry consists in reinforcing and extending monopolies. It thereby chooses to imperil the lives of millions of patients irrevocably.

Governments are responsible for the welfare of their people. In Morocco and everywhere else, governments must reject the demands of the US and pharmaceutical transnationals, which will only bring death and ruin. France and all other European countries which support the policy of pharmaceutical companies by accepting to pay higher prices for medicines without making sure their products are really innovative, must immediately and publicly denounce the American policy in developing countries. And the WHO must urgently demand to have health excluded from all trade negotiations.

Act Up-Paris is calling for a freeze on all current negotiations on bilateral agreements until the WTO comes up with an evaluation of the impact on health of the agreements that have already been implemented.

Contact: GaŽlle Krikorian
+ 33 6 09 17 70 55

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