MSF reactions to Doha TRIPS agreement
15 November 2001
Daniel Berman Communications Coordinator MSF-Access to Medicines Campaign "Since Seattle there has been a seismic shift. Two years ago many developing countries felt they were powerless against the will of the wealthy countries and their drug companies. Here in Doha more than 80 countries came together and negotiated in mass. "It was this solidarity that led to a strong affirmation that TRIPS can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner to protect public health. In practical terms it means that countries are not at the mercy of multinationals when they practice price gouging. "The threat of punitive action against a country that attempts to address its health needs has been dramatically reduced. "With this declaration it is doubtful that a wealthy country would dare file a dispute against a developing country for using one of the safeguards such as compulsory licensing. Now patent holders either offer prices that make their drugs accessible or risk losing their monopoly rights. "The victory in Doha is really for people who need or will need access to life-saving or extending medicines." Ellen 't Hoen Globalisation Aspects Co-oordinator MSF-Access to Medicines Campaign "This declaration is a major step forwards in the quest to ensure access to medicines for all. The text that has been agreed upon now was unthinkable 6 months, 6 weeks, even 6 days ago. "It states clearly that there are serious conflicts between the obligations under the TRIPS Agreement and countries need to protect public health including providing access to medicines, it states that countries have the right to take measures to overcome patent barriers to public health and the statement outlines clearly how countries can do this. "It is a missed opportunity that this ministerial conference did not offer a solution for countries without production capacity that want to make use of compulsory licensing . But we are confident that this issue will be resolved in the next year in the TRIPS Council. "Countries can ensure access to medicines without fear of being dragged into a legal battle. Now its up to governments to use this power to bring down the cost of medicines and increase access to life-saving treatments."