SPIN: The EC says it is working to promote access to medicines in developing countries.
TRUTH: Yes, the EC is involved in a number of important initiatives, not least providing support to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM), and financing research and development globally. But the trade policies being pursued by the EC will entirely undermine the impact of these other initiatives.
Donor-funded treatment initiatives such as the Global Fund are dependent upon access to affordable generic medicines. Given the funding shortfall resulting from the latest GFATM replenishment round, there is a genuine fear that donor-funded programs may not be able to maintain their current levels of treatment, let alone expand access to the nearly 10 million people still on the waiting list who will die without access in the next two to three years.
SPIN: The EC says it is trying to stop fake medicines that pose a public health risk for consumers
TRUTH: The specter of harmful fake medicines is one of the concerns used to justify regulations. Yet the real effect of such regulations and agreements is not to address fraudulent, unsafe, and ineffective medicines but rather to protect the commercial interest of multinational companies.
Provisions such as those the EC is pursuing would inhibit generic competition and increase drug prices. This in turn would actually encourage the introduction of fake medicines. The WHO has recognized that high drug prices are a cause of counterfeit medicines. Patients demand low-cost alternatives, and counterfeiters respond.
People whose lives depend on Indian generics have taken to the streets in Delhi, Bangkok, Jakarta, and Kathmandu, amplifying the message that EU Trade Commissioner De Gucht needs to back off.
SPIN: The EC says that it will guarantee that legitimate generic medicines are not unfairly delayed when in transit.
TRUTH: The EC is pushing for measures that do precisely the opposite. It is seeking to include civil trademark disputes, which could mean effective and safe medicines are stopped from being produced or are destroyed in order to protect company profits.
For people with HIV/AIDS who need medicines to stay alive, a ten-year wait to get a newer drug is not viable. They’ll die waiting. Half of all children born with HIV/AIDS won’t make it to their second birthday without treatment. We can’t let the EU shut down our supply of affordable newer medicines.
Ariane Bauernfeind, operational coordinator for MSF projects in South Africa, Malawi, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe.
Help us send a message to the European Commission to keep their HANDS OFF OUR MEDICINE!
SPIN: The EC says that its policies will not weaken India’s ability to produce and export affordable medicines.
TRUTH: There are three main aspects of the agreement that will have a chilling effect on the ability of Indian generics companies to produce and sell affordable, life-saving medicines across the developing world. These are:
(1) Delaying the registration of generic medicines through so-called ‘data exclusivity’ (DE)
(2) Stopping the flow of generic medicines through border measures
(3) Killing generic competition through a stricter enforcement of intellectual property
India has a patents law that is strict about what does and what doesn’t deserve a patent, but Europe is using dirty legal tricks to get around this law and block cheaper generic medicines.
European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht is attempting to give Europe’s pharmaceutical industry a backdoor to monopolies that lead to high drug prices and will keep pills out of reach of patients.