Access to drugs in developing countries. François Loos would like to accelerate the calendar in order to rapidly address the health crisis.

Press release from French Trade Minister
November 7, 2002

The Minister of Foreign Trade is calling on the countries of the European Union to take concerted action and rapidly facilitate access to drugs in developing countries. Francois Loos is asking the members of the WTO to rapidly fill the current legal void in the international intellectual property agreements in order to guarantee rapid, secure access to drugs in developing countries which are victims of epidemics, but that do not have the capacity to produce the necessary drugs themselves. The European Commission and the main negotiators at the WTO will meet on November 15th 2002 in Sydney to discuss the legal framework.

“We must guarantee that during a health crisis developing countries which do not have the capacity to produce their own drugs will be able to procure them from other countries. To respond to the crisis, I would like us to find a rapid solution that respects patent rights. This is essential to build a sustainable system. Legal solutions exist and are applicable. For example, all it would take is to supplement article 30 of the international agreements on intellectual property.

However this issue does not only concern patent rights. The sustainability of pharmaceutical research which is essential to medical progress must be ensured, as well as the development of distribution circuits adapted to the size of the problem. Governments can fulfil their role to find a framework and control the distribution circuits in order to address the needs of millions of patients around the world. The security and viability of the drug distribution circuits to patients would then have to be ensured. Given the urgency, I would like the WTO negotiations to lead to a suitable legal framework that will allow us to advance rapidly. This is a challenge for the industrialised countries that we must meet.”

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