Thursday, 20 May 2010

Regional and global policies – access to medicines

Thanks to Judit Rius Sanjuan, Attorney, Knowledge Ecology International for giving the IP tango blog access to the Declaration signed by civil Society organisations from Latin America, the European Union and the US which came together for a meeting in Quito (Ecuador), to discuss access to medicines.

The document starts as follows:
Organizations of the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) - Global Alliance for Access to Medicines reaffirm their commitment to work to ensure universal access to medicines, in the belief that medicines are enabling factors for the full exercise of the right to life. The LAC –Global Alliance has identified old and new policies and processes, some of which enable access to medicines, while others sustain commercial privileges that become obstacles to the achievement of public interest outcomes. Access to medicines should not be subordinated to commercial interests.

There were several issues that were dealt with in the decision but some of them are:
1.- Praising Ecuador’s recent decision to issue a compulsory license for Kaletra (lopinavir + ritonavir), a key medicine in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. It also welcomes the measure taken by the Colombia’s government by issuing Decree 1313 which authorizes parallel import.
2.- Rejecting ACTA because this agreement would limit the production and free movement of legitimate generic products.
3.- Expressing concern about TRIPS-plus and TRIPS-extra provisions. In the same vein, it rejects any pressure in negotiations for bilateral agreements which may represent negative effects on public health and patients’ rights. Specifically, it alerts Latin American governments of new provisions for intellectual property protection such as patent extensions, longer periods of data exclusivity, and enforcement measures.

The full Decision can be read here in English, and here in Spanish.

Note: while measures like compulsory licenses and parallel imports enable countries to expand access to medicines I am a little bit wary about compulsory licenses. The situation is that the majority of Latin American countries have Corruption Perceptions Index which are extremely high and added to this, governments appear to be using this measure to fulfill political aims. There need to be a better balance, don't you think?

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