NGO's Oppose Pharmaceutical Suit
We have pleasure in sending you a petition entitled "Affirming the primacy of the right to life over the exorbitant profits made by the pharmaceutical transnational corporations." It is signed by 39 NGOs with consultative status at the United Nations.
Alarmed by the attitude of the pharmaceutical transnationals, particularly
with regard to those suffering from AIDS, the signatories to this text ask
the Commission on Human Rights to adopt, at its 57th session, a resolution
declaring that fundamental human rights, particularly the right to life,
rank over the right of intellectual property.
6, rue Amat
APPEAL BY NGOS TO THE 57TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Affirming the primacy of the right to life over the exorbitant profits made by the pharmaceutical transnational corporations
On 1 February 2001, the United States of America lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organization against Brazil because this South American country passed a law in 1996 that permits the manufacture of generic medicaments, among them those destined to combat AIDS, at considerably lower prices than those charged by the transnational pharmaceutical companies. Thus the poor sectors of the population can have access to these medicaments.
At the same time, on 5 March 2001, 39 large transnational pharmaceutical companies began legal action in Pretoria against a South African law which grants the use of generic medicaments, particularly those used against AIDS.
The legal proceedings taken by the United States and the pharmaceutical transnationals against the Brazilian and South Africa laws, claim property rights of the medicaments in question as owners of the patents -- in accordance with their interpretation of the TRIPS agreement under the World Trade Organization.
One of the arguments used for giving priority to the protection of patents is that it motivates the enterprises to invest in research. But in considering this, four important factors must be taken into account:
A good part of the investments in research comes from the State, (that is from the citizens' payments of taxes) with the laboratories spending more on advertising than on research.
The investments in research and development are very quickly recovered through the commercialization of the medicaments and the benefits derived from them.
The scientific discoveries from which the pharmaceutical companies benefit are the fruit of the labour of scientists and technicians which is part of a historical process of accumulation of collective knowledge.
The central question is to know whether the right of intellectual property can predominate over human rights, and particularly over the fundamental right to life, of a large part of the African population which is decimated by AIDS. It must be remembered also that there are other concerned populations on other continents.
Some large laboratories have promised to lower the prices of medicaments used in the treatment of AIDS in African countries. But until today, they have not kept their promise and are quite obviously resisting the competition represented by selling these medicaments at a lower price.
Thus, the Laboratory Pfizer has preferred to put a medicament, fluconazole, free of charge at the disposal of South African patients, rather than accept the competition concerning the same product, of Thai origin, which is 15 times cheaper.
In July 2000, during a special meeting, the UN Security Council declared that AIDS constitutes a menace for peace and security in Africa. To be consistent, the Security Council should adopt a resolution, binding on all States, that declares the medicaments destined to combat AIDS as 'common heritage'.
The signatories to this text ask the Commission on Human Rights to adopt at its 57th session a resolution declaring that fundamental human rights, particularly the right to life, ranks over the right of intellectual property and demanding forthwith that the United States of America withdraw its complaint lodged with the WTO against Brazil, and that the 39 pharmaceutical transnationals renounce their legal process against South Africa.
List of Signatories
Alliance Universelle des Unions Chrtiennes de Jeunes Gens (UCJG)
World Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations (YMCA)
Association Amricaine de Juristes (AAJ)
American Association of Jurists (AAJ)
Association Internationale Contre la Torture
International Association Against Torture
Centre Europe-Tiers Monde (CETIM)
Europe-Third World Center
Centro de Estudios Europeos
Centro de Estudios Sobre la Juventud
Confdration Mondiale du Travail (CMT)
World Confederation of Labour
Conseil International des Femmes
International Council of Women
Conseil International de Traits Indiens
International Indian Treaty Council
Conseil Mondial de la Paix
World Peace Council
Consejo Indio de Sud America (CISA)
Indian Council of South America
Fdration des Associations pour la Dfense et la Promotion des Droits de l'Homme
Federacion de Associacones de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos
Fdration des femmes Cubaines
Federation of Cuban Women
Fdration Dmocratique Internationale des Femmes (FDIF)
Women's International Democratic Federation (WIDF)
Fdration Gnrale des Femmes Arabes
General Arab Women Federation
Fdration Internationale des Femmes des Carrires Juridiques
International Federation of Women in Legal Careers
Fdration Internationale des Mouvement d'Adultes Ruraux Catholiques (FIMARC)
International Fedration of Rural Adult Catholic Movements
Fdration Latino-Amricaine des Associations des Familles des dtenus disparus (FEDEFAM)
Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared Detainees
Fdration Mondiale des Femmes des Eglises Methodistes et Unies
World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women
Fdration Mondiale de la Jeunesse Dmocratique (FMJD)
World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY)
International Educational Development
Jeunesse Etudiante Catholique Internationale
International Young Catholic Students
Ligue internationale des femmes pour la paix et la libert (LIFPL)
Women's international League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
Ligue internationale pour les droits et la libration des peuples (LIDLIP)
International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples
Movimento cubano por la Paz y la soberania de los Pueblos
Mouvement contre le Racisme et l'Amiti entre les Peuples (MRAP)
Movement against racism and for friendship among peoples
Mouvement Indien "Tupaj Amaru"
Indian Movement"Tupaj Amaru"
Mouvement international des Etudiants Catholiques
International Movement of Catholic Students
Mouvement Mondial des Mres
World Movement of Mothers
North South XXI
Organisation de Solidarit des Peuples d'Afrique,d'Asie et d'Amrique Latine (OSPAAL)
Organization for the Solidarity of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America (OSPAAL)
Organisation tunisienne des jeunes mdecins sans frontires
Secrtariat International du Mouvement 12 Dcembre
December Twelfth Movement International Secretariat
Union des Juristes Arabes
Union of Arab Jurists
Union Mondiale des organisations fminines Catholiques (UMOFC)
World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations (WUCWO)
Union Nationale des Juristes de Cuba
Unin Nacional de Juristas de Cuba
- 122 Pharmaceuticals