MSF Mobilizes Campaign to Keep Europe 'Off' Generic Medicines

An aid worker with the European Commission and a Médecins Sans Frontières staff monitor meningitis epidemic response in North Nigeria. MSF has launched a campaign targeted at the European Union to stop attempts to restrict access to life-saving medicines. Photo by: Claire Barrault / ECHO

Medecins Sans Frontieres has launched a campaign to stop attempts to restrict the developing world’s access to life-saving generic medicines. The campaign is targeted at the European Union, which MSF claimed is “effectively snatching the medicines out of our hands.”

The launch of the campaign, dubbed “Europe! Hands off our Medicine,” coincides with the resumption of trade talks between the European Commission and India. MSF warned that a trade agreement between the two could block developing countries’ access to generic medicines.

The trade agreement is just one of EU’s numerous attacks on the availability of and access to generic medicines, MSF said in a statement. The international medical organization claimed that the EU is demanding intellectual property rules that are tougher that was is required by international law.

MSF is also accusing the bloc of being the “driving force” in talks for an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement through which the EU is allegedly pushing for measures to limit the production of generic medicines.

“What the Europeans are doing is effectively snatching the medicines out of our hands,” Marius Muller, MSF’s Medical Coordinator in Kenya, said. “Because generic medicines are more affordable, we have been able to put more and more patients on AIDS medicines. This has meant a lot of hope for our patients who can work again, who can bring up their children again. But if Europe has its way and shuts off this source, we risk killing the success of what has been achieved here in the last five years.”

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.