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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.

Trading Away Access to Medicines: How the European Union's trade agenda has taken a wrong turn

November 8, 2010

Access to medicines poses a critical challenge in developing countries, largely because prices are high, and new or adapted medicines and vaccine to address diseases of the developing world are lacking. ore than 5 million people in low and middle income countries still lack access to the anti-retroviral medicines needed to treat HIV and AIDS. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have unleashed a new epidemic of suffering across the developing world. Pandemics are a serious threat in rich and poor countries alike, but while rich countries can stockpile medicines, these are often unaffordable for poor countries. Most people in developing countries pay for medicines out-of-pocket, so even a slight price increase can mean that lifeâ€saving medicines are unaffordable.

Ending the R&D Crisis in Public Health: Promoting pro-poor medical innovation

November 3, 2010

Diseases that disproportionately affect the developing world cause immense suffering and ill health. Medical innovation has the potential to deliver new medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics to overcome these diseases, yet few treatments have emerged. Current efforts to resolve the crisis are inadequate: financing for research and development (R&D) is insufficient, uncoordinated, and mostly tied to the system of intellectual property rights. Delivering appropriate medicines and vaccines requires reforms to the existing R&D system and a willingness to invest in promising new approaches.

Investing For Life: Meeting poor people's needs for access to medicines through responsible business practices

November 3, 2010

There are major shortcomings in the pharmaceutical industry's current initiatives to ensure that poor people have access to medicines. To shore up its own flagging economic performance, the industry is increasingly looking to the potentially huge markets within emerging economies. Yet, poor people who live in these countries still desperately lack affordable and appropriate medicines. The time is ripe for a bold new approach. The industry must put access to medicines at the heart of its decision-making and practices. This is both a more sustainable long-term business strategy and would allow the industry to better play its role in achieving the universal right to health.

Patents Versus Patients: Five years after the Doha Declaration

November 3, 2010

Five years ago, members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) signed a ministerial agreement to ensure that intellectual property rules would no longer obstruct developing countries' efforts to protect public health. Since then, however, little has changed. Patented medicines continue to be priced out of reach for the world's poorest people. Trade rules remain a major barrier to accessing affordable versions of patented medicines (generic medicines). The prevalence of debilitating and life-threatening diseases in poor countries is growing, but medicines are simply not available. Urgent action is needed.

All Costs, No Benefits: How TRIPS plus intellectual property rules in the US-Jordan FTA affect access to medicines

October 29, 2010

The USA continues to impose TRIPS-plus rules on developing countries, thus preventing poor people from accessing inexpensive, generic medicines. Jordan was required under the terms of its WTO accession package and its free trade agreement (FTA) with the USA to introduce TRIPS-plus rules. Medicine prices have increased drastically, and TRIPS-plus rules were partly responsible for this increase. Furthermore, stricter levels of intellectual property protection have conferred few benefits with respect to foreign direct investment, domestic research and development, or accelerating introduction of new, effective medicines. Medicine prices will continue to rise in Jordan, but the country will be unable to use TRIPS safeguards to reduce their cost. Other developing countries implementing or considering FTAs with TRIPS-plus rules should consider the consequences for public health.