|Free Trade Area of the Americas - FTAA
FTAA - COMMITTEE OF GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES ON THE PARTICIPATION OF CIVIL SOCIETY
CONTRIBUTION IN RESPONSE TO THE OPEN AND ONGOING INVITATION – EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
>Lack of access to medicines is a serious social problem. Over 80% of the medicines produced worldwide are consumed in the rich countries. In the meantime, nearly one third of the world’s population has no access to even essential medicines, and over 30,000 people in the world die each day of curable diseases as a result. Over 90% of these deaths occur in the developing world.
Latin America is no exception, given that over 121 million people in the region have no access to adequate health care. Between 50% and 90% of medicines are, in fact, paid for out of the consumer’s pocket, in contrast to the situation in high-income countries, where two thirds of medicines are provided by the government and social security programs.
>Important studies show that the most effective way to bring down the prices of medicines and improve access to them is to boost competition in the sector. For every competitor that enters the market, prices drop at least 10%. That is why the prices of competing medicines (sold as national and generic brands) are at least one-third or even less of the price of innovative medicines.
>To boost competition in the medicines sector, the implementation of standards-related barriers that prevent the distribution of national products that are of good quality and low in price must not be allowed to continue in international scenarios, such as the FTAA. Of the new barriers contemplated in the FTAA agenda, the following are the most notable:
1. Recognition of second use
The establishment of any of these barriers would have the following social and economic effects:
1. Low-price competing medicines
The humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders concludes: “If the FTAA creates a system that blocks the use of equivalent but cheaper drugs, it will be a catastrophe for all people in the Americas, because the difference in price can be the difference between life and death.”
>Does it make sense to recover R&D in poor countries to encourage the invention of new molecules? No, because these markets, apart from their being of little significance from a global viewpoint, lack the capacity to pay monopoly-based prices, which dramatically affects the population’s welfare. Also, only 10% of R&D is devoted to third world diseases. According to OXFAM, this constitutes "one of the main causes of poverty and suffering in the world.”
RECOMMENDATIONS:1. Transfer the chapter on intellectual property rights to the WTO.
2. Otherwise, do not establish norms that could restrict access to medicines even further.
3. Strengthen the negotiating teams of Latin American countries by adopting three measures: a) Include those responsible for social protection in the process; b) Boost the participation of civil society; and c) Exclude the representatives and attorneys of multinationals.
In Latin America medicines should stop being a luxury. Health is not negotiable!
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