Negotiations at the World Trade Organization on Access to Generic Medicines: Developing Countries Find Themselves Caught Between the United States and the European Union

Act Up-Paris
December 12, 2002

In Doha the Member States of the WTO pledged to enable those countries which do not produce generics to gain access to them by the end of 2002, via imports from producing countries.

However, the manner in which negotiations are being conducted presently are unacceptable.

The United States remains inflexible and insists on restricting the use of generics to the treatment of three diseases...Such a position is a blatant step backwards from U.S. commitments at Doha one year ago.(see the "Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health"). It goes against all public health principles. Furthermore, by resorting to all kinds of bilateral pressures, the United States has tried to split developing countries and force them to give in to US demands one after the other.

The European Union, which is represented by its trade commissioner, Pascal Lamy, not only lets the United States freely proceed with its policy of intimidation, but also keeps pressuring developing countries. Under the guise of a few insignificant concessions, the European Union keeps requiring from developing countries a whole variety of unnecessary controls which will hobble them in their access to generics.

This is intolerable.

France, which claims to be on the side of developing countries, must react. President Jacques Chirac who on numerous occasions has denounced the scandalous inequalities between the North and the South in the access to medical treatments, must publicly speak up against such intolerable manoeuvring.

If no really suitable agreement is reached to give rapid access to treatments in developing countries or if an unworkable and restrictive "solution" is imposed on developing countries, the developed countries will be responsible for a real international crisis.

It will only prove that international agreements which were to a large extent imposed on poor countries cannot deal with such important questions for the world's population as those of public health : hence the very framework of the agreements on intellectual propoerty(TRIPS) must be reviewed as quickly as possible.

Contact: GaŽlle Krikorian
+33 6 09 17 70 55

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