NGO Letter on the TRIPS and Public Health Issue

Open letter to Trade Ministers:
We ask trade ministers to reject the efforts of the United States and the European Commission to force a limited and narrow solution to the issues raised in paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and public health. The solution to paragraph 6 should allow every country to deal effectively with abuses of patent rights for any health care product. The model for a solution on paragraph 6 is not the restrictive one sought by the EU and US trade negotiators, who are seeking to protect their export pharma industries, but rather the solution recently endorsed by the European Parliament.
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November 12, 2002

Open letter to Trade Ministers:

We ask trade ministers to reject the efforts of the United States and the European Commission to force a limited and narrow solution to the issues raised in paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and public health. The solution to paragraph 6 should allow every country to deal effectively with abuses of patent rights for any health care product. The model for a solution on paragraph 6 is not the restrictive one sought by the EU and US trade negotiators, who are seeking to protect their export pharma industries, but rather the solution recently endorsed by the European Parliament.

On October 23, 2002, the European Parliament adopted, by 504 to 30, the report by Mrs Fran├žoise Grossetete (EPP-ED, F) together with Amendment 196, offered by Ms Dorrette Corbey (Dutch Labour), which aims to update an EU code (Directive 2001/83/EC) relating to medicinal products for human use. Amendment 196 states:

Manufacturing shall be allowed if the medicinal product is intended for export to a third country that has issued a compulsory license for that product, or where a patent is not in force and if there is a request to that effect of the competent public health authorities of that country.

The approach in Amendment 196 sets out the basic framework for a solution to the paragraph 6 problem. It would allow generic manufactures in any country to supply consumers in any country, so long as the sale of that product was legal and appropriate in the country where it was to be used by patients (when the legitimate rights, if any, of the patent owners, are protected in the country where the product was consumed).

There is no evidence that the use of compulsory licenses has been abused by any country, for any product. The approach taken by the European Parliament would insure that compulsory licensing will continue to be an effective tool to address abuses of patent rights (including cases where a creditable threat to issue a compulsory license can address abusive pricing) after developing counties comply with WTO TRIPS obligations.

Sincerely,

Pia Valota
Association of European Consumers

Cecile Oh
Third World Network
Malaysia

James Love
Consumer Project on Technology
USA

Celine Charveriat
Oxfam International

Benedicte Federspiel
The Danish Consumer Council
Denmark

Ellen ‘t Hoen
Medecins Sans Frontieres
France

Robert Zulu
Africa alive!
Zambia

Kenneth V. Georgetti
Canadian Labor Congress

Andrew Goldberg
Consumers Union
USA

Machiel van der Velde
Consumentenbond
(Dutch Consumer Organisation)

Mark Silbergeld
Consumer Federation of America
USA

Asia Russell
Health Gap
USA

Allan Asher
Consumers’ Association
UK

Rod Leonard
Community Nutrition Institute
USA

Sanjay Basu
United Trauma Relief
Cambridge, MA USA

Chela Vazquez
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Minnesota, USA

Robert Weissman
Essential Action USA

Consumer Unity & Trust Society,
Jaipur, India.

Richard Elliot
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

Dr K Balasubramaniam
Health Action International Asia – Pacific

Dr Gopal Dabade,
BUKO Pharma-Kampagne
Bielefeld, Germany

Alastair Fraser
ACTSA – Action for Southern Africa
London

Steve Watrous
Wisconsin Fair Trade Campaign
Milwaukee, WI USA

Rosemary Forbes
Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development (ICAD)
Ottawa,Ontario Canada

Kathleen McNeely
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Washington DC

Gracie Fong
Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)
Suva, Fiji Islands