On this year’s day of action, a group of radical Stop AIDers headed for Europe House in London to stage a stunt showing how the secretive, sneaky and profiteering agenda of EU trade deals is impacting people’s right to access essential medicine. Whilst at Europe House we also mailed a letter to Karel De Gucht the EU Trade Commissioner, outlining our concerns and asking him not to include any provisions within EU Free Trade Agreements that could have a negative access to medicine.
On April 24th we received a reply from Brussels where Commissioner De Gucht claimed that ‘the EU does not negotiate in its bilateral free trade agreements any measures that could hinder access to health care and medicines’. Click on letter (on the right) to read.
Due to the inconsistencies in Commissioner De Guchts claims we decided it was highly necessary that we write back and point out all the ways where this is in fact not true. Click the letter below to read our response:
We await De Gucht’s next reply and will publish it here…
And here it is! Click below to read.
The latest letter definitely contains more detail than the previous one but it is still riddled with contradictory and problematic statements. I have listed the most important ones below.
1) The letter refers to the Commission’s commitment to protect access to medicines in the ‘poorest countries’ we assume they mean ‘Least Developed Countries’. This indirectly implies that Thailand and India are not included as they are considered middle income countries.
2) It says that TRIPS Plus rules are not included within the negotiating text and then it goes on to explain how ‘data exclusivity’ and ‘patent term extension’ will be included in the Thai agreement…these are both TRIPS Plus!
3) The Commission’s defence about ISDS is also very weak. He gives no explanation as to why there has to be separate process for dealing with trade disputes when the WTO already has one for TRIPS.
4) Tiered pricing is still suggested as a viable solution for reducing the price of medicines. We know from experience that these voluntary reductions in medicine prices do not improve access to medicines in the long run and have never been as effective or sustainable as generic competition driving down prices.
NEXT STEPS..? The new Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom is soon to be sworn in. She has mentioned the need for increased transparency and accessibility of trade negotiations which are both desperately needed so we know what is being agreed in our name. We are planning steps to engage her on our issues to ensure that EU trade policy no longer puts the profit-driven agenda of Big Pharma ahead of people’s right to health.