Oxfam: US Trade Policy is Undermining Access to Lifesaving Generic Medicine

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Via trade agreements and bilateral pressure, the U.S government is introducing stricter intellectual property rules that will devastate the ability of developing countries to access affordable antiretroviral medicine, thus undermining its commitment to combat AIDS, according to international agency Oxfam.

Dr. Mohga Kamal-Yanni, senior health advisor for Oxfam contended, “Under the influence of the multinational pharmaceutical industry, the US is pushing for enhanced monopoly protection on new medicines, including medicines to treat HIV and AIDS, thus driving up the cost for people living in poverty.”  He went further, “Neither patients nor governments will be able to pay for antiretroviral medicines urgently needed to address the pandemic.”

In the absence of low-cost generic medication, it will be extremely difficult to administer antiretroviral therapy to the millions affected by HIV and AIDS.  According to Oxfam, prior to the introduction of generics to the market, antiretroviral therapy cost $10,000 per patient per year. Generic competition has enabled costs to be reduced to under $80 per patient per year. Such lifesaving low-cost generic versions of medicines are prevented from entering the market in the presence of strict intellectual property rules.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is a single manifestation of a trade agreement endorsed by the U.S which has the ability to undermine the dissemination of low-cost medicine.

Universal access to affordable medicine is an absolute necessity, particularly in light of the millions affected by HIV and AIDS and the promise that such treatment affords. Stayed tuned to IPEye for further information on the matter.

Photo Credit: Rennett Stowe, http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomsaint/2598347399

About: Tracy Ayodele

Tracy Ayodele is a Canadian lawyer, called to the Bar of Ontario, and a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School. She has a keen interest in IP policy, social innovation and the intersection of technology, development and start-up culture in emerging economies. She is a spirited legal researcher and writer, and co-authored “Hot-tubbing in Canadian Patent Litigation: A Preliminary Assessment” published in the Intellectual Property Journal.

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