European drug seizures criticised in Oxfam/HAI report

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EU trade policies regulating the pharmaceutical industry, including the seizure of generic drugs in transit to developing countries, are supporting the commercial interests of some drugmakers while damaging opportunities for innovation and access to medicines in developing countries, an Oxfam International and Health Action International (HAI) report says. The report criticizes recent European customs authorities’ seizures of generic drugs suspected of infringing intellectual property rights.


In the Oxfam International and HAI report it is recommended that:

1. The European Commission (EC) and EU Member States should honour commitments under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Doha Declaration on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and Public Health, and relevant World Health Assembly (WHA) resolutions on innovation and access to medicines, including full implementation of the WHO ‘Global Strategy and Plan of Action’.

2. The EU should ensure its trade policy is in line with its development objectives, including specifically enhancing access to health care and access to medicines. This includes ensuring that trade rules, whether multilateral, regional, or bilateral, exclude essential public services such as education, health, and water and sanitation from liberalization commitments. EU Member States must act to hold the EC accountable when the EC fails to uphold these principles.

3. With respect to IP:

• The EU and Member States should not misuse Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to introduce TRIPS plus Intellectual Property (IP) rules in developing countries to extend monopoly protection and introduce new enforcement measures, which limit access to medicines.

• The EC should stop exerting pressure on governments that attempt to introduce safeguards and flexibilities to impede access to medicines in developing countries. Therefore, the EU should ensure that patents are excluded from any agreed framework.

• The EC and Member States should identify and support other measures to improve access to generic medicines in developing countries, including the UNITAID patent pool for HIV and AIDS medicines.


European Drug Seizures Criticized in International Report. FDA News/International Pharmaceutical Regulatory Monitor Vol. 37 No. 11. 2009 November.

Oxfam International and Health Action International report. Trading Away Access to Medicines - How the European Union’s trade agenda has taken a wrong turn. Health Action International (HAI Europe). 2009 October .

Source: FDA News; International Pharmaceutical Regulatory Monitor; Oxfam; HAI Europe

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