Seizure of legitimate generic medicines is condemned for violating right to health
Press release, 2010 May 14
Latin American civil society condemns Human Rights violation by the EU in the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal
Civil society organizations of Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, countries affected by the seizure of generic medicines in European harbors, will present to the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPC), today, May 14th, in Madrid, Spain, a complaint against the European Union (EU) for the seizures. The organizations request that the EU be held guilty for violating the right to health and to life of the populations of the affected countries, for imposing illegitimate and illegal obstacles in the access to generic medicines used in treating several illnesses. The gravity of this fact was reinforced on the 12th of May when the Brazilian and Indian governments requested a consultation in the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the EU and Netherlands regarding the seizures.
Recent cases of detention of Indian generic medicines in transit to developing countries in Africa and Latin America, seized by European customs officials, only emphasize the hazards brought by the boarder measures which include intellectual property rights. The impact of these measures is clear with the detention of at least 18 shipments of generic medicines from India in European ports, from 2008 to 2009, based on the EU’s Regulation n. 1383/2003. The apprehensions of generic medicines were justified under the allegation of combating counterfeits. However, EU is treating legitimate generic medicines as counterfeits, provoking a deliberate confusion between the terms, and hindering the right to access of medicines at affordable prices.
The PPC is a non-governmental international opinion Tribunal, originated from the trials on crimes against humanity committed by the USA in the Vietnam War. It was constituted in Italy in 1979 and has already been in session in 31 occasions to judge several cases of human rights violations. This time, the session entitled La Unión Europea y las Empresas Transnacionales en America Latina (European Union and Transnational companies in Latin America) will be held on May 14th and 15th, 2010, in Madrid, Spain, making the fourth Peoples’ Summit Enlazando Alternativas (“Linking Alternatives”), an event occurring parallel to the sixth Summit of Head of States and Governments of the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean.
In the presented case, the EU is demanded to interrupt its seizures of generic medicines in transit in their harbors; and that it abstains from promoting deliberate confusion in relation to the concepts of generic and falsified medicines. In the same manner, it is also being requested that the term “counterfeit”, related to intellectual property rights, stops being used in discussions involving falsified medicines. The civil society groups from these countries hopes that adequate measures are adopted to guarantee the reparation of the people affected by the undue seizures.
According to data from 2009 of the World Health Organization (WHO), about 2 billion people in the world do not have access to essential medicines, and a considerable part of this population lives in Latin America. The pharmaceutical patent guarantees monopoly over the production and commercialization of a medicine, allowing the practice of high prices, maximizing the profit of transnational companies over the right to health of the populations in developing and less developed countries. In a scenario of problems in the access to treatment and high prices, generic medicines are fundamental for pubic policies regarding health and promotion of the human right to health.
The case was signed by the following organizations: Work Group on Intellectual Property (GTPI, acronym in Portuguese) of the Brazilian Network for the Peoples’ Integration (REBRIP, acronym in Portuguese), from Brazil; Mission Health Foundation, Table of NGOs which work with HIV/AIDS, and the Colombian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, from Colombia; International Action for Health Latin America and the Caribbean, from Peru; Ecuadorian Coalition of People Living with HIV/AIDS, from Ecuador.
For more information, please contact:
In Madrid (Spain):
Renata Reis – +55 21 9114-1838 / +34 91 441 45 00 / e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Francisco Neves +34 91 441 45 00 - email@example.com
Pedro Villardi – +55 21 2223-1040 / +55 21 9438-0399 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marcela Vieira – +55 11 3884 7440 / e-mail: email@example.com