6 March 2018 — The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), two US pharmaceutical lobby groups, have requested the US Trade Representative (USTR) to place the European Union (EU) on its 2018 Special 301 Report. This highly controversial Report by the USTR is an annual unilateral review of the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) in other countries, and used as means to pressure countries to comply with the US demands for tougher IP rules that would eventually benefit the US pharmaceutical industry.
In their requests, both PhRMA and BIO have asked USTR to add the EU to this year’s report because of an ongoing European Commission review of existing intellectual property-related incentives for the biopharmaceutical industry and its impact on innovation and access to medicines.
The European Parliament Working Group on Innovation, Access to Medicines and Poverty-Related Diseases laudably rejects this attempt by industry lobby groups to undermine Europe’s efforts to ensure lifesaving medicines to those in need. In the statement released today, EPWG strongly condemned the bullying tactics of multinational pharmaceutical corporations, which aim to influence the work the EU has undertaken to review IP incentives that create spiraling drug prices without raising the bar on innovation, and failing to serve EU citizens and governments.
MSF response to PhRMA’s request for inclusion of EU to Special 301 report
“We firmly support European Parliamentarians’ strong condemnation of pharmaceutical lobbying groups’ bullying tactics, which are aimed at getting the EU added to the US’s questionable watchlist on intellectual property. The EU should, on the contrary, be applauded for initiating a critical review of the impact of its intellectual property policies on affordable access to medicines and innovation. For example, the EU’s ‘supplementary protection certificates’ have prolonged patent monopolies, enabling pharmaceutical corporations to charge exorbitant medicine prices for longer periods of time – threatening the sustainability of national healthcare systems and delaying patients’ access to lifesaving medical innovation across Europe.
We firmly believe that the EU and all the sovereign governments, such as India and Colombia, must be supported to exercise their legal rights to safeguard affordable access to medicines for their citizens. Bullying countries because they provide affordable access to lifesaving medicines, vaccines and diagnostics is totally unacceptable. At a time where high medicine prices are a concern globally, countries’ efforts to optimize rules and policies around medical innovation and affordable access must not only be respected, but should be promoted more than ever.”
Aliénor Devalière, EU Policy and Advocacy Advisor, MSF Access Campaign