Health GAP/ACT UP Philadelphia のAsia Russellさんが送ってくれた記事で、
February 5 2003
African States Rebuff EU Plan on Cheap Drugs
GENEVA (Reuters) - African states on Tuesday rebuffed a European Union (news
- web sites) bid to break a deadlock in world trade talks over access to
life-saving medicines for poorer countries.
The 144 World Trade Organization (news - web sites) (WTO) states have been
wrangling since the launch of free trade negotiations in Doha, Qatar, in
November 2001 over how to overcome patent rules on medicines for countries
facing health emergencies and which do not have any domestic drug industry.
The EU launched its proposal for an advisory role for the UN World Health
Organization (news - web sites) (WHO) on health emergencies after the WTO
countries failed to meet an end-2002 deadline for a deal on drugs.
But African countries, meeting for the first time on the issue since
Brussels announced its compromise in January, said the EU scheme was not a
solution to the problem.
"While we welcome the EU effort, it does not fully respond to our concerns,"
said senior Moroccan embassy official Abdesselem Arifi, whose country holds
the rotating presidency of the African Group within the WTO.
Developing countries, particularly those in Africa, reject any attempt to
narrow the scope of the pact because they say that could hamper their
ability to tackle future health crises.
Talks collapsed just before Christmas after the United States, which is home
to many of the world's leading drug companies, demanded that any accord
specify the types of diseases to be covered.
Washington put forward its own list of some 20 infectious diseases,
including AIDS (news - web sites) and malaria, for which it said it would
allow patent rights on drugs to be suspended in any emergency. The US said
it would not take any action under the WTO's dispute procedures against any
developing country that sought to import cheaper generic copies of patented
medicines to treat these diseases.
The EU plan would allow countries to turn to the WHO if they believed a
disease not included on the list poses a serious threat to public health.
"The EU plan is not acceptable. We do not want to surrender our flexibility
to the WHO," Nelson Ndirangu, Kenya's representative at the drug talks,
Under existing WTO rules, member states have the right to issue so-called
compulsory licensing orders to their pharmaceutical companies to make
generic copies of drugs when they feel they face an emergency or when
patented medicines are not available at reasonable prices.
But the rules do not allow for the export of such drugs, so states without
any, or without a sufficiently advanced, domestic drug industry to make the
copies cannot take advantage of them.
The United States says it is still committed to finding a solution to the
drug issue, but it says that it does not favor imposing fresh deadlines.
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