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Sinn Féin welcomes progress on pharmaceutical patents

28 August, 2003

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson, West Belfast representative Cllr Sue Ramsey has welcomed reports that the US has reached agreement with a number of developing countries on the production of pharmaceuticals bypassing current international patent regulations.

Cllr Ramsey said:

"Patents are one of the reasons why people who have HIV from developing worlds lack access to AIDS treatments. Developing countries have been challenged to enforce pharmaceutical patents protecting the treatment of deadly and widespread diseases such as AIDS by counties where the pharmaceutical giants are based, particularly the USA.

"Yet the argument put forward by such countries that the patents system encourages greater innovation do not stand up against the reality that patents inflate the price of medicines and restrict treatments to a minority of wealthy patients.

"The monopoly position of the multi-national pharmaceutical companies and the economic and political pressure applied to developing countries has undermined the ability of developing countries to develop strong treatment regimes.

"The implementation of the TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of International Property Rights) agreement in debt ridden, low income developing countries has not helped the international war on disease. Patent systems have also had far reaching consequences on pricing tariffs. However, evidence suggests that developing countries that have built up ambitious generic programmes to treat their patients appear to fare much better than countries that have been forced to adhere to the demands for patent protection from pharmaceutical companies and the US.

"The detail is yet to emerge of talks between key players in the developing world such as South Africa and India with the USA but any progress must be built upon and sustained." ENDS

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