European Citizens’ Initiative wants to collect 1 million signature to lift the patents on COVID19 pharmaceuticalshttps://eci.ec.europa.eu/015/public/#/screen/home
A broad coalition of health worker trade unions, NGOs, activist groups, students associations and health experts launched on November 30th a European Citizens’ Initiative. Their objective is to convince the European Commission to put all measures in place to make sure that intellectual property rights, such as patents, do not limit the availability of treatments and vaccines against COVID-19.
A European Citizens’ Initiative allows European citizens to introduce legislative proposals if they collect 1 million signatures in 1 year. This binding initiative adds another voice to the concern expressed by civil society groups, public health experts and world leaders that newly developed vaccines and treatments might only be available for a small part of the population due to financial and logistical barriers.
The organisers state that pharmaceutical companies should be obliged to share the results of their research with other institutions to speed up the production of doses globally, and to lower the cost significantly, as has been proposed by India and South Africa at the World Trade Organisation. They also demand that the negotiations take place in full transparency.
"It is misleading when pharmaceutical companies state that they are offering the vaccine at a low price, or when governments say it will be free of charge for citizens”, reacts Anne Delespaul, spokesperson of the initiative and Belgian doctor, “As if we are not paying it all. However, The research and development was largely funded with public money by the European Union. But we are not getting any public control on the actual price, effectiveness and production costs. This way citizens, tax payers, social security and health systems pay twice : once for the development via public funding and a second time for the revenues of Big Pharma.
There is no reason why, in the midst of a pandemic and economic crisis, societies should contribute to shareholders profits. Our health systems are already overburdened.”
The launching date, November 30th, is not a coincidence. Anne Delespaul: “This is the eve of World Aids Day, when we show support for people living with and affected by HIV. Millions of people died because they couldn’t afford treatment and protection. After a decades-long battle, pharmaceutical companies were forced to drop their patents. But the world simply can’t afford to wait this long.”