James Love on Mon, 29 Mar 1999 23:02:11 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> FT: Campaign over drug licensing to grow

     [orig to RANDOM-BITS <random-bits@essential.org>]

Financial Times
Monday, March 29, 1999

Lead paragraph on page one, full story on page 3

Campaign over drug licensing to grow
by Francis Williams in Geneva

Aids activists and other health and consumer groups plan to 
step up their campaign against US government policy on 
compulsory licensing of pharmaceuticals patents, which they 
claim is depriving people in poor countries of life-saving 

Washington has threatened sanctions against countries such 
as Thailand and South Africa for exercising what groups 
claim are their legal rights to insist on compulsory 
licenses for certain drugs which are not available or 
affordable locally.

International patent law and world trade rules allow 
governments to issue a compulsory license, enabling a local 
company to produce a patented drug, if this is judged to be 
in the public interest and reasonable terms cannot be 
negotiated with the patent owner.

US policy came under a strong attack at a meeting on Friday 
of some 60 non-governmental organizations from around the 
world with representatives of the pharmaceutical industry, 
governments and international bodies including the World 
Health Organization (WHO) and the World Trade Organization 

Bernard Pecoul of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which is 
trying to improve access to essential drugs, said access had 
worsened in recent years.  The emergence of new diseases 
such as HIV/Aids and drug resistant strains of old ones such 
as tuberculosis or malaria meant that, increasingly, 
effective drugs tended to be protected by patents.

Health groups say the drugs are too expensive or are not 
sold in developing countries to avoid undercutting lucrative 
markets in the US and Europe.  The big US and European 
pharmaceutical companies argue that compulsory licensing 
acts as a disincentive to research and development.

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