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Eye on the Ball: Medicine regulation - not IP enforcement - can best deliver quality medicine

February 8, 2011

Poor-quality medicines pose a serious threat to patients and public health in developing countries. The World Health Organisation estimates nearly one-third of all countries lack adequate drug-regulatory capacity to monitor medicines safety.Under the guise of addressing this problem, some rich countries are pushing for new intellectual-property rules and a reliance on police action to keep substandard medicines out of reach. Such an approach will not ensure consistent medicine quality. Worse, it threatens to undermine access to legitimate, affordable generic medicines.Donors and developing countries must prioritize building competent regulatory authorities - not expand intellectual-property enforcement - so that patients can be assured that the medicines they take are safe and effective.

Robbing the Poor to Pay the Rich? How the United States keeps medicines from the world's poorest

November 3, 2010

Impressive advances in medicine and technology have boosted health and extended life expectancy - but not for everyone. Vital new medicines for diseases such as HIV/AIDS are priced out of reach of the millions of sick people in the developing world, in part due to global patent rules which restrict the availability of affordable generic versions of patented medicines. In 2001, all members of the World Trade Organization adopted the 'Doha Declaration', promising to prioritize public health over private patent rights and to promote 'access to medicines for all'. This paper examines how the government of the United States is contravening this commitment by using technical assistance, bilateral and regional trade agreements, and the threat of trade sanctions to ratchet up patent protection in developing countries. This policy benefits the influential U.S. pharmaceutical industry while pushing medicines further out of the reach of poor people.

Africa and the Doha Round: Fighting to Keep Development Alive

October 29, 2010

As a result of unfair trade rules and falling commodity prices, Africa has suffered terms-of-trade losses and increasing marginalisation. Ten years after the Uruguay Round, the poorest continent on earth, which captures only one per cent of world trade, risks even further losses, despite promises of a 'development round' of trade negotiations. This would be a great injustice. There cannot and should not be any new round without an assurance of substantial gains for Africa.