World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Sydney Summit a step back for access to medicines

PRESS RELEASE

Sydney Summit a step back for access to medicines, but it's not the end of the story


Sydney, 15 November. Trade ministers meeting in Sydney today proposed a reform to WTO patent rules which supposedly allows poor countries to import cheap generic medicines but which in practice could be unworkable. “This is a setback in the fight to put public health before corporate profit, but the battle is not over,” said Jeff Atkinson, a spokesperson for Oxfam International.

The major problem is that the country supplying cheap generic copies of drugs needed to combat AIDS, TB and any other disease, would have to agree to override the relevant patent. This makes the needy importing country unacceptably dependent on the political will of another government, and increases the administrative burden. Potential suppliers would also be under enormous pressure from industrialised countries such as the US and EU not to help out.

If this proposal is accepted by the wider WTO membership, an insurmountable barrier to getting cheaper medicines is replaced by numerous lower ones, argue the international aid agencies Oxfam and Medecins Sans Frontieres. But this 25-nation summit is informal - the real decision will be taken by all 144 WTO member states over the coming month in Geneva.

”The irony is that while developing-country delegates in Sydney have been pressurised to back down, world opinion is swinging in their favour,” says spokesperson for Medecins Sans Frontieres Kathryn Dinh. “The proposition from the European Commission that won the day in Sydney has been unravelling at home, with the French, Belgium, Dutch and European Parliaments supporting the proposals favoured by many developing countries. And leading US newspapers are now vocal critics of US policy on this issue.”

”Many people in the Third World and aid agencies such as Oxfam and Medecins Sans Frontieres were hoping that Sydney would act in the spirit of WTO commitments made at Doha. As it is, they have been disappointed to see their trade ministers pressurised by powerful countries into accepting a political fudge in a behind-closed-doors meeting, without their patent experts present,” said Mr. Atkinson, 'but the needs of millions of sick and needy people will not be set aside so easily'.

For further comment please contact:
Oxfam international: Jeff Atkinson on +61 (0) 3 9289 9428 or +61 (0) 3 9528 4354;Michael Bailey +44 (0) 79 68 196102 (Oxford)
Medecins Sans Frontieres: Kathryn Dinh on +61 (0) 419 275 395 (Sydney) or Ellen t’ Hoen +33 6 223 758 71 (Paris)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Rohingya Muslims Massacred: Restrictions On Aid Put 1000s At Risk

Amnesty: The Myanmar authorities’ restrictions on international aid in Rakhine state is putting tens of thousands of lives at risk in a region where mainly Rohingya people are already suffering horrific abuses from a disproportionate military campaign. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

ALSO:

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC