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International trade

Transatlantic trade agreement could harm access to medicines, Oxfam warns

The international development charity Oxfam and a coalition of European non-governmental agencies and other organisations have repeated their warning that a proposed new trade agreement between the European Union and the United States could impact access to affordable medicines.

Oxfam and Health Action International (HAI) Europe are concerned that the proposal to define intellectual property (IP) as an investment and include it in the new transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP), which is currently being negotiated, could pose a serious threat to public health.

 “If passed, we are worried that TTIP could set a new global standard for intellectual property protection resulting in much higher prices of medicines with dramatic consequences for the world’s poorest,” said Oxfam’s policy officer Leila Bodeux.

Her comments co-incide with publication of the charity’s joint report with HAI Europe, “Trading away access to medicines – revisited” which was released on 29 September 2014 — the same day negotiations on the new TTIP were reopened.

Oxfam and HIA Europe called on the EU to ensure that the TTIP does not further expand “monopoly protection” and jeopardise access to medicines in Europe and beyond.

They also want the EU to consider ways to promote the sharing of pharmaceutical knowledge rather than the protection of IP rights. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20066686

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