Online Program

Anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA) and access to essential medications: The Canadian perspective

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 10:35 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.

Joel Lexchin, MD, School of Health Policy and Management, School of Health Policy and Management, Toronto, ON, Canada
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was under discussion and negotiation starting in 2006 and until its signing in October 2011. Although the agreement covers a large number of areas one of the most contentious has been its implications for access to essential medicines in developing countries. The primary public health concern when it comes to counterfeit medicines is around the deliberate falsification of the contents of medicines such that they are ineffective or harmful to the people consuming them. However, ACTA is concerned with intellectual property rights (IPR) such as patent and trademark violations not the quality of medicines. Even before ACTA was signed there were seizures of legitimate generic drugs in transit through Europe from India and Brazil because of allegations that the drugs violated patent rights. If ratified ACTA will make IPR even more central in determining access to essential medicines. There are also concerns that there will be significant pressure put on developing countries not to use the available room in ACTA to adapt standards to local needs and that the costs associated with implementation will be substantive and present a burden on the limited public budgets of developing countries. As one of the countries negotiating ACTA and now one of its signatories Canada has ignored these problems and in doing so will impose further hardships on the population of some of the world's poorest countries.

Learning Areas:

Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the background leading up to the development of ACTA Describe the position of various Canadian organizations and the Canadian government Analyze the contents of ACTA Assess the implications of ACTA for access to essential medicines

Keyword(s): Developing Countries, Social Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have studied and commented on this issue and have a long history of being involved in trade issues as they pertain to access to medications.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.