Aids and Access to Medicines:
The European Commission Reneges on Commitments Made at Doha


March 5, 2002

At the time of the Doha declaration on intellectual property and public health, WTO member countries mandated that the TRIPS Council in Geneva would clarify the possibilities of giving access to generic medicines to countries that do not produce them.

While the right to use compulsory licenses to produce or import medications was established at Doha, what was not dealt with was the right for countries boasting drug-making capacity to supply countries lacking such capacity with affordable, generic versions of patented products.

Thus, many impoverished countries without drug-manufacturing capacity still have no access to low-cost generic medicines and remain chained to the monopoly prices of pharmaceutical corporations.

It is now up to the WTOs Council of TRIPS, holding March 5 through 7, to remove this obstacle as an emergency measure. Yet the developed countries are trying to go back on the promises they made last November and whittle away the rights of the sick who live in impoverished countries.

Article 30 of the TRIPS agreement allows, among other things, countries to export medicines and other products in order to respond to public health needs. However, the European Commission is trying to impose a restrictive interpretation of the agreement on intellectual property, setting drastic constraints that are inapplicable . in practice. By thus exposing developing Members to WTO litigation, they would plunge us back into the climate of blackmail and menace that Doha was supposed to have ended.

Furthermore, the European Commission is trying to limit the advances made at Doha to situations of national health crises, even though it was clearly established at the WTO conference that compulsory licensing should be used before crisis happen, and, specifically, in order to avoid them.

Health care and access to medication are fundamental rights, that neither industry nor the European Commission should be allowed to oppose.

Act-Up Paris demands that European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy:

Galle Krikorian
North/South Commission
Act Up-Paris

BP 287 - 75525 Paris cedex 11

Tel: 33 1 49 29 44 75
Port: 33 6 09 17 70 55
Fax: 33 1 48 06 16 74
E.mail: galk@noos.fr


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