Patent or patient? How Washington uses trade deals to protect drugs

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Article
1 September 2006

Free-trade deals reduce competition in generic drugs market

Author: Kathleen Jaeger, President & Chief Excecutive, Generic Pharmaceutical Association

Sir, Your article, "Patent or patient? How Washington uses trade deals to protect drugs" (August 22) resonated with our concerns regarding recent US free trade agreements (FTAs). The Generic Pharmaceutical Association has communicated to US negotiators and World Health Organisation officials the importance of establishing trade agreements that balance the interests of innovator companies and the public's interest in access to affordable medicine. Unfortunately, the FTAs developed over the past 18 months fail to achieve this balance.

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Article
22 August 2006

Patent or patient? How Washington uses trade deals to protect drugs

Author: Alan Beattie, Andrew Jack, Amy Kazmin, Financial Times

The "lives of hundreds of thousands of Thai citizens" would be put at risk if negotiators accepted Washington's demands for greater protection of drug companies' intellectual property rights, he [William Aldis, World Health Organization director in Thailand] wrote in an article for a Bangkok newspaper...By the end of March, Dr Aldis...was abruptly transferred sideways to a job in India, raising concerns in Thailand about US efforts to curb the independence of the WHO's public health professionals. The spat highlighted the tensions generated by a US drive to strengthen patent enforcement and intellectual property rights protection around the world - a campaign backed by some of the powerful drugs companies that produce Aids medicines but opposed by many public health specialists, patient groups and developing nations...On one side are those who argue that stronger patent protection will keep drug prices too high to meet the needs of developing-world patients. Pitted against them are others who insist innovation is under threat and the real problem in poor countries is a lack of hospital facilities and medical staff. Widely discussed at last week's world Aids conference in Toronto, the issue prompted a petition signed by Médecins sans Frontières, the doctors' aid organisation, and dozens of other groups calling for a moratorium on free- trade provisions that threaten access to treatments. In it they demand that governments "protect the public from the potential negative consequences of bilateral and regional trade agreements on public health". [refers to Cipla, Ranbaxy, Abbott Laboratories]

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Article
17 August 2006

Call for moratorium on trade provisions that threaten access to medicines or treatment programmes

Author: Médecins Sans Frontières

In a single day more than 45 organizations from over 40 countries signed onto a petition calling for a moratorium on free trade provisions that threaten access to medicines and sustainability of treatment programs. The signatories include NGOs, PLWHA [People Living With HIV/AIDS], doctors, academics, lawyers, activists, scientists, faith-based organizations, transgendered groups, health care practitioners and individuals.

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