The European Parliament’s rejection of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been lauded as a positive move towards “ensuring continued access to affordable and essential drugs and medication essential for the fulfillment of the right to health,” according to a UNRI article.  This move was met with widespread approval by several NGOs that had long argued against the ACTA and by UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover.

Although there has been negative reaction to the European Parliament’s decision, mostly from groups fearing increased piracy and intellectual theft, this is largely regarded as a blanket victory for many categories of human rights, including the right to health.

As Grover explained, ACTA would have placed undue intellectual property standards that would restrict the trade and subsequent usage of lower-cost generic medicines, which are critical in the push to make affordable health care accessible to all.  The European Parliament recognized this in its decision. In addition, Grover expressed considerable concerns as to how this agreement would ultimately be implemented and to what ends. Opposition to the agreement worried that ACTA could give pharmaceutical companies even more power over the distribution of drugs under the pretense of labeling generic medicines as counterfeit goods.

UN Special Rapporteur Grover had previously cautioned against the ACTA, citing its “lack of transparency and secrecy,” in a 2009 report on access to medicines and intellectual property rights. The defeat of ACTA recognizes the importance of fair access to medicines and marks an important victory for the efforts to work towards this goal.

Read the news release by the UN OHCHR here.

Photo: By LadyofProcrastination (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 
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