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Open letter asking 37 WTO Members to declare themselves eligible to import medicines manufactured under compulsory license in another country, under 31bis of TRIPS Agreement

Background In 2001, the World Trade Organization (WTO) began negotiations on the rules regarding patents and access to medicine. While several issues were clarified and resolved in the November 2001 “Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health”, the negotiations took nearly two more years to adopt on August 30, 2003, a decision that was a limited “waiver of the export restriction” on medicines and diagnostic tests manufactured under a compulsory license. The final resolution was complicated. Among the controversial features was the definition of an “eligible importing member”, which allowed WTO members to declare themselves ineligible in some cases or in all cases. In 2017, this decision became a formal amendment to the TRIPS agreement. Today 37 members of the WTO are listed as ineligible to import medicines manufactured in another country under a compulsory license, including the governments of Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, United States, and the European Union, including the following member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden. On April 7, 2020, more than 30 groups and three dozen experts on health, law and trade sent an open letter to those 37 WTO members, asking that “countries to notify the WTO that they have changed their policy and now considers itself an eligible importing country, and in addition, to also use whatever legal means are available to revoke the opt-out as importing members, for goods manufactured under a compulsory license.”

Lowered insulin price should be made permanent

the Lilly company has temporarily lowered the price of insulin to $35/month. As anybody who reads the paper knows, LOTS of Americans, both young and old, are dying because they cannot afford insulin's insane price.

Gilead Outrageously Seeks Super-Monopoly Protections for Covid-19 Drug remdesivir

Statement of Peter Maybarduk, Director, Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program Note: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today granted experimental COVID-19 treatment remdesivir a special orphan status intended for drugs that treat rare diseases. The status sets up remdesivir’s manufacturer Gilead Sciences to receive additional federal tax credits in the United States and a bonus lucrative seven-year market exclusivity, allowing Gilead to exclude generic and more affordable competition while charging high monopoly prices, if the drug is approved. Gilead’s pursuit of an orphan designation is unconscionable and could be deeply harmful. Remdesivir is one of relatively few medicines that may prove effective in treating COVID-19 this year. The government should be urgently concerned with its affordability for citizens. Instead, the FDA has handed Gilead, one of the most profitable pharmaceutical corporations on earth, a long and entirely undeserved seven-year monopoly and with it, the ability to charge outrageous prices to consumers. Gilead has gamed the system by rushing through its “rare disease” orphan drug application while there are, for this brief moment, fewer than 200,000 COVID-19 U.S. cases. Its action is disingenuous and outrageous, and underscores the need for the federal government to step in.

The Hidden Holocaust -

25 years ago a scheme, to make drugs much more expensive, came into force - along with the WTO. with the creation of the WTO -and tellingly, this was also in the middle of an epidemic, like today.

Market Spiral Pricing of Cancer Drugs

By Donald W. Light. "Companies are spiraling up high prices, not because of costs or better value, but because they can get away with it, in - only the USA. Senior oncologist, Hagop Kantarjian, and I show that very high prices for cancer & specialty drugs are not due to high costs of research, nor to added clinical value. Companies are simply spiraling up prices already 2-3 times greater than other capitalist countries allow, because we allow them to. High co-pays hurt patients and impede good clinical care. This exploitation of serious ill patients and taxpayers is ethically troubling and must stop."

Carrying a Good Joke Too Far: TRIPS and Treaties of Adhesion

"A small, unindustrialized country enters into an agreement with a significantly larger, more industrialized country. The agreement must be signed before the small country is permitted to join an exclusive, wealth- generating organization. The small country is facing an epidemic of epic proportions. Already, twenty-two million of its citizens have died as a result of a deadly virus and over thirty million of its citizens are infected. Almost three million die every year. Thirteen million children are orphaned; 15,000 new people acquire the virus every day. The average fifteen-year-old citizen has more than a fifty percent chance of dying of the virus and is more likely to die of the virus than all other causes combined. Finally, while the virus attacks indiscriminately, it impacts the country's economic driving force-its farmers, teachers, blue-collar workers, young adults, and parents -particularly hard. The disease is treatable, but at a cost well out of reach of the country's citizens. The country attempts to address this crisis by implementing two methods, parallel importation and compulsory licensing, which will drastically reduce prices and ensure the supply of drugs at affordable prices. Upon enactment, the larger industrialized country demands that the smaller country halt implementation because the methods violate its obligations under the agreement." (Sound familiar? It should.)

Canada's CCPA's (progressive NGO) submission on the USMCA (new NAFTA)

CCPA recommendations for a better North American trade model The all-party House of Commons trade committee is consulting Canadians on their priorities for bilateral and trilateral North American trade in light of the current renegotiation of NAFTA. In the CCPA’s submission to this process, Scott Sinclair, Stuart Trew, and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood argue for a different kind of trading relationship that is inclusive, transformative, and forward-looking—focused on today’s real challenges, including climate change, the changing nature of work, stagnant welfare gains, and unacceptable levels of inequality in all three North American countries. The CCPA submission largely repeats advice given to Global Affairs Canada during the department’s consultation on the NAFTA renegotiations, but is updated to take into account some of the proposals put forward by Canada and the U.S. during the first three rounds of talks.

The WhistleBlower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman

By Peter Rost, MD This book is about drug prices, by a former Pfizer VP of marketing- An inside view of the drug industry, an industry that both saves the lives of people who have enough money to buy its increasingly expensive products, and also lobbies all around the world to keep its prices high. I'd also recommend watching the film "Fire in the Blood", which Peter Rost, the book's author, appears in, if you are interested in this subject.

High prices, poor access: What is Big Pharma fighting for in Brussels?

Big Pharma's lobby machine ground into top gear to defend its privileges, doing its best to remove or weaken regulatory measures. A close relationship with the Commission –which fails to take undue industry influence seriously– has played a key role, as has the lobbying firepower of Big Pharma. The top ten biggest spending companies, for example, have increased their lobby budget by €2 million since 2015, and Big Pharma's main lobby group EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations) sits on eight of the Commission’s advisory groups. Big Pharma has also rolled out a PR offensive harnessing the powerful emotions around illness, designed to deflect criticism and narrow the scope for debate. Thanks to this lobbying arsenal, the industry has succeeded in influencing the review into pharma incentives and rewards (such as intellectual property rules), as well as a change to a type of patent extension called an SPC (supplementary protection certificate) which allows companies to extend the period of monopoly pricing. It has also affected a proposal for EU collaboration to assess how effective new medicines and health technologies are relative to existing ones, something which helps member states negotiate prices. Drug companies promote the use of ‘new’ drugs because they still have patent protection, and are therefore more expensive, over old ones that don't, even if the new product is not an improvement in medical terms.

PharmaMyths.net

The drug pricing policy web site of pricing expert Donald W. Light.

Global Trade and Public Health

"Global trade and international trade agreements have transformed the capacity of governments to monitor and to protect public health, to regulate occupational and environmental health conditions and food products, and to ensure affordable access to medications". (This basically means they have stolen the right to regulate, or are in the process of stealing it.)