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UN agencies denounce the India/EU Free Trade Agreement

Wednesday 16 March 2011

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On Wednesday, UN UNAIDS agencies, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) reported their deep concern over the increasing number of agreements going beyond the scope of TRIPS Agreement, that is to say increasing the duration of patents and monopolies of drug companies on vital medicines. These agreements have dramatic consequences on access to health products for people living with HIV in poor countries. Studies have shown that the cost of health spending has drastically risen in developing countries that have signed such agreements in the past. Ten days ago, UNITAID [2] - the international facility for drugs purchasing – also denounced these agreements.

The free trade agreements that are currently being negotiated between India and the European Union can strongly affect access to antiretroviral treatment. These agreements will cause an impact on access to treatment not only for people in India, but also for all patients of poor countries actually receiving triple therapy manufactured in India. In the 2000s, the competition of generic drugs (mainly exported by India) allowed the significant reduction of the cost of HIV treatments, and therefore millions of people to have access to it. The agreements that are currently being negotiated threaten care access for all those who are waiting to receive treatment (more than the majority of the persons infected worldwide), and challenge all the progress achieved in the fight against AIDS.

All hope of reversing the curb of the epidemic will be devastated if these agreements are not immediately stopped.

The irresponsibility of the European Commission (EC) is threatening access to treatment in developing countries. Beyond the agreement negotiated with India, the EC has begun to set the basis for new negotiations with countries in the Asia-Pacific - including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam – in a complete lack of transparency.

Act Up-Paris:
 denounces the lack of transparency around this Agreement, as well as the irresponsibility of Bercy and the Elysee that support, in France, without saying a word the actions of the European Commission;
 requires more than ever the immediate stopping of such agreements that threaten the lives of millions of people.

[1See the press release of WHO, UNDP and UNAIDS http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/

[2See UNITAID press release: http://www.unitaid.eu/en/resources/