Michèle Rivasi asks question about ACTA and Access to Medicine

225px-michel-rivasi.jpg Michèle Rivasi, a Member of the European Parliament, representing South East France for The Greens, has asked the European Commission: "Given the possible impacts of the inclusion of patents the agreement on access to medicines and on innovation, would the Commission consider accepting the exclusion of patents from the agreement as proposed by a number of ACTA negotiating parties?" The full text of her question follows:

ACTA and ACCESS to MEDICINE

The current wording on damages and other remedies in the the proposed ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement) text could allow for excessive damages for infringement that go beyond current international legal standards, and which could have a strong dissuasive effect on generic medicine competition and on access to life-saving drugs. By increasing the damages to this extent the agreement effectively expands the rights of the IP right-holders, increasing the risks and the viability for generic competitors seeking to enter the market. This could dampen innovation and the production and trade of generic medicines. These proposed high levels for damages and penalties will force changes in the laws in some EU Member States and also clearly contradicts present US law

ACTA could still constitute barriers to medicines going to developing countries. The border measures section no longer includes patents but patents remains in the rest of the agreement that includes civil trademark infringement with greatly increased penalties. This means a customs official could initiate a seizure and even destruction of an allegedly infringing good without judicial review or even notification to the rights holder? simply on the basis of an assertion by a rights holder of a commercial trademark dispute.

Third parties are at risk of injunctions, provisional measures, and even criminal penalties, including imprisonment and severe economic losses. This could imply, for example, that suppliers of active pharmaceutical ingredients used for producing generic medicines; distributors and retailers who stock generic medicines; NGOs who provide treatment; funders who support health programs; and drug regulatory authorities who examine medicines. This could act as a significant deterrent to anyone involved in the production, sale and distribution of affordable generic medicines.

Given the possible impacts of the inclusion of patents the agreement on access to medicines and on innovation, would the Commission consider accepting the exclusion of patents from the agreement as proposed by a number of ACTA negotiating parties? Will the Commission consider carrying out an impact evaluation of ACTA on its impact on access to medicine, generic competition and technological innovation?