XVIII International AIDS Conference

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Seizures of generic medicines in the European Union: obstacles to ARV access in the developing world

M.C. Pimenta1, R. Reis2, F. Viegas Neves da Silva2, V. Terto Jr.1

1Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association ABIA, General Coordination, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association ABIA, Working Group of Intellectual Property, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Issues: In the last two years, approximately 20 shipments of medicines, including ARVs, were seized by EU customs authorities. One example happened in November 2008 when a shipment of Abacavir purchased by UNITAID was seized in transit to Nigeria because it was considered counterfeit. This action is part of an offensive of the EU to increase enforcement of IP rights through the EC Regulation 1383/2003. Under this regulation the EU customs authorities can seize medicines that are suspected of infringing trademarks or patents. This regulation goes against the principles of TRIPS and the Doha Declaration that dictates that there should not have barriers to legitimate trade. Several NGOs are pressuring the EU to review this regulation, alleging that generic medicines and counterfeit medicines are not the same and that access to essential medicines should be a priority of the EU.
Description: The Brazilian Working Group of Intellectual Property (a network of NGOs) is preparing a case study to be presented on the Permanent Court of Peoples (TPP) to be held in Madrid in May 2010 that documents and analyzes the seizures. This initiative is part of a global reaction against violations to public health in developing countries.
Lessons learned: The EU regulation and the seizures of generic represent an obstacle to access to medicines, especially generic versions of ARVs. Therefore, civil society should advocate in several forums to denounce such abusive practices and legislations.
Next steps: Publicize the court ruling and utilize it politically in order to disseminate information and mobilize other activists and PLWH. The main objective is to put pressure in the EU so that these regulations are not adopted in other countries. As well as it could represent a strong blow against the EU customs regulation and its abuse in preventing free trade of generics to developing countries.


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