In high-income countries a market-driven pharmaceutical industry does not always sufficiently respond to the needs of particular patient groups, such as women and children. In addition, across the world, it excludes those population groups who represent commercially non-viable medical needs, despite the fact that their illnesses account for a significantly large proportion of the global health burden.
The commercial power and influence of the pharmaceutical industry in national and global healthcare policy has thrown up a visible divide between trade competitiveness and public health. Increasingly public health appears to be sacrificed in the race between regions for trade superiority. Health care systems are under enormous strain, and costs continue to spiral, without clear signs of benefits for the public. Yet it is the public that pays for innovation in health through a number of mechanisms such as taxes, corporate tax breaks and credits, health insurance schemes, and through legal frameworks such as patents.

As need-driven health research is becoming increasingly important: WHO is developing a global strategy and plan of action, and HAI members all over the world are actively working on a future scenario: Where the market fails, new approaches to pharmaceutical R&D are called for.

28 November 2008 – Event Memo DG Competition’s Presentation of its Preliminary Report into the Pharma Sector

31 January 2009 - HAI Europe’s response to DG Competition interim report on Pharmaceutical Sector Inquiry Jan 31

17 February 2009 - Read Health Action International’s response to the Guardian article, Drug giant pledges cheap medicine for the world's poor,

31 March 2009 Publication - Advanced Market Commitments: Current Realities and Alternate Approaches by Professor Donald W. Light, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, USA. Published by Health Action International and Medico International. See press release

15 April 2009 - HAI Response to the Expert Working Group on Alternative Financing

10 August 2009 - HAI Europe Statement on DG Competition’s final report on pharmaceutical sector Inquiry

4 September 2009 – HAI Response to Second Public Consultation from the Expert Working Group on Research & Development Financing

15 January 2010 - Open letter to WHO Executive Board on EWG & GSPA implementation (ES)

19 January 2010 - HAI Global Statement at WHO Exec Board on EWG report

20 January 2010 - Event Memo 126th WHO Exec Board Agenda item on EWG presentation

11 May 2010 - Joint TWN HAI Statement WHO should refocus its efforts

17 May 2010 - HAI Intervention on Agenda Item 11-3 Public health innovation and IP

19 May 2010 - HAI Intervention on Agenda Item 11-20 Counterfeit Medical Products

22 May 2010 - Press release 63rd World Health Assembly (2)

18 November 2010 - Can We Afford the Current Model of Medical Innovation? Towards New Models of Innovation

On the 18th of November HAI together with partners TACD, Oxfam en KEI organised a conference on the need for new models of innovation in the European Parliament.

18 November 2010 - Concept Note Innovation and Access Conference at EP

29 November 2010 -Joint Statement Increasing calls within EU for new models of medical innovation

29 November 2010 - Event Memo Can We Afford the Current Model of Medical Innovation EP meeting


25 October 2010 - Policy brief on ACTA and Access to Medicines

13 November 2009 - Joint declaration from Oxfam, Health Action International and Médecins Sans Frontières in Spanish

1 December 2009 - HAI Europe response to the European Commission’s Global Health consultation

11 Janaury 2010 - Open Letter to Commissioner de Gucht on Joint Declaration

11 January 2010 - Joint Declaration Trading Away Access...

19 February 2010 - Press release prioritise and protect Access to medicines in Central America

22 March 2010 - HAI Europe response to the DG Trade Consultation on ACTA

26 April 2010 - Compulsory licenses in Ecuador

27 April 2010 - EU-India FTA poses a serious threat

29 July 2010 - Joint Open letter on ACTA to DG Trade Commissioner de Gucht from HAI Europe, Oxfam, Knowledge Ecology International, Public Citizen and Vrijschrift

29 July 2010: Joint civil society letter on ACTA and Access to Medicines to Trade Commissioner de Gucht.

Intellectual property enforcement initiatives threaten consumer rights and public health
12 June 2009 - The TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD), Health Action International (HAI) and Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) hosted a public meeting on the issue of intellectual property rights enforcement in Brussels on Wednesday, June 10th. Click here for joint press release

HAI Members'Comment on Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement
3 July 2009 - Health Action International (HAI) members in Canada have contributed to the public debate on ACTA by submitting comments to the Canadian government’s Consultation & Liaisons Division. Please click here to read the submission and the TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) Resolution on the enforcement of copyright, trademarks, patents and other intellectual property rights.

Joint Oxfam International & HAI Europe briefing paper
20 October 2009 - Trading Away Access to Medicines. How the European Union's trade agenda has taken a wrong turn. Full Report in French and Full Report in Spanish

Latin-American – Global Alliance for Access to Medicines

24 April 2010 – Declaration of Quito from the IV Meeting of LAC – Global Alliance for Access to Medicines. Also in Spanish

EU-CAN Alliance on Access to Medicines

HAI Europe and HAI Latin America have formed an alliance between European and Latin American civil society to monitor and lobby negotiations on Association Agreements between the EU and the countries of the Andean region. Rigid Intellectual Property Rights provisions demanded by the EU are likely to have a negative effect on Access to Essential Medicines.

HAI Europe coordinates civil society efforts in Europe and raises awareness at the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council about the potentially harmful impact of the Association Agreements on public health in the Andean countries.

HAI Latin America will bring together civil society organisations in the region, lobby their respective national governments and provide the evidence base to support the HAI Europe advocacy campaign.

2 December 2008 Policy Brief - The EU-CAN Association Agreement, Access to Medicines in jeopardy!

February 2009 Factsheet - EU-CAN Association Agreements Negotiations – This factsheet was developed in cooperation with Evert Vermeer Stichting in the context of their European Union Coherence programme

9 February 2009 Open letter - EU-CAN Alliance to the European Commission and Members of the European Parliament on the negotiations round 9-13 February 2009 in Bogota. Plus, an Annex on the public health concerns with the intellectual propoerty chapter in the trade agreements.

17 February 2009 - Expert Meeting at the European Parliament: In cooperation with the EU Coherence Programme (,  HAI Europe hosted an expert meeting on the bilateral negotiations on trade agreements between the European Union and the Andean community (CAN) countries: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru. Please see the final programme, speaker presentation summaries , concept note , press release and event memo for more information

March 2009 Publication - Health Protection in the European and Andean Association Agreement. by Xavier Seuba Hernandez also available in Spanish, Executive Summary and Conclusions

24 March 2009 - Highlights from the Peru and Colombia Impact Studies: EU Intellectual Property proposals presented during the negotiation rounds in Lima. See press release

23 April 2009 Open letter - EU-CAN Alliance to the European Council on the negotiations round 4-9 May 2009 in Brussels. Plus, Annex 1 on the public health concerns with the intellectual property chapter in the trade agreements and Annex 2 .

1 May 2009 - Summary of Preliminary Results Peru Colombia Impact Studies

1 May 2009 Policy Brief - Protecting Access to Medicines in EU Trade Agreements: The Andean Region

6 May 2009 – Press release - EU's Intellectual Property agenda could impair access to medicines in the Andean region

16 June 2009 Press release - EU Commission pushes its trade agenda on Andean nations despite public health consequences

20 July 2009 - Press release - EU negotiators are trading away Access to Medicines in Andean countries- Following the round of trade negotiations between the European Union and Peru and Colombia in Lima, Peru, the CAN-EU Alliance of European and Andean civil society organisations is calling on the EU to abandon all TRIPS plus demands in order to protect access to medicines for the Andean populations.

11 November 2009 - Final Report: Impact of the EU-Andean Trade Agreements on Access to Medicines in Peru. Click here for the full report in Spanish.

16 December 2009 Presentation - Impact of EU Trade Agreements on Access to Medicines

29 March 2010 Impact of the EU-Andean Trade Agreement on Access to Medicines in Colombia


The case of the losartan seizure, which became public in January 2009, was a clear demonstration of European enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights trumping access to medicines. HAI immediately responded to this news with a press release, highlighting the inconsistency between the EU’s uncompromising IP enforcement agenda and commitments made by EU Member States, including the Netherlands, to promote and protect public health in developing countries.

This was followed by a joint letter with the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue and a joint letter from HAI and Oxfam Novib to the Dutch Ministries Finance, Economic Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and Health, which called on the authorities to assess and determine conclusively whether the present EU regulations and practices on border measures are consistent with policies for facilitating universal access to medicines.

HAI was also part the group of NGOs that sent letters to the WHO and WTO, demanding that the WHO “immediately undertake an assessment of the risks to public health programs presented by such seizures” and that the WTO examine whether EU “customs rules and provisions in trade agreements present risks to goods in transit, and undermine the commitments made in 2001 in the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health concerning access to medicines.”

HAI then issued a statement following, WTO Director-General, Pascal Lamy’s response to the NGO letter.

The news at the end of February about the seizure of a UNITAID/Clinton Foundation shipment of ARV medicines brought home the importance of tackling these interventions in the legitimate trade of generic medicines. HAI issued a joint press release with Oxfam International and Knowledge Ecology International to condemn this unacceptable seizure of HIV/AIDS medicine that threatened the treatment of HIV positive Nigerians.

Following the recent release of the UNITAID shipment, HAI issued a statement on 20 March 2009 welcoming the release of these life-saving medicines but urging the authorities to refrain from seizing generics by applying overambitious border measures and allowing IP enforcement measures to distort or corrupt the free movement of legitimate medicines in transit.

At the beginning of April 2009, HAI filed an official request with the Dutch government, under the Wet Openbaar Bestuur (the Dutch-equivalent of a Freedom of Information Act), to release all documents related to the recent seizures of generic medicines in transit (click here for the statement). On 7 May 2009, HAI received the Official Response to Freedom of Information request, which is also available in Dutch.

On 5 May 2009, a shipment of the antibiotic, Amoxicillin, manufactured in India and destined for the Republic of Vanuatu in the Pacific, was seized by customs officials while in transit through Frankfurt, Germany. Amoxicillin is an essential medicine used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections. Please see the joint press release from Health Action International (HAI), Oxfam International, BUKO-pharma, Medico International and Third World Network.

11 August 2009 – HAI Europe Statement on the latest developments on seizures of generic medicines in-transit

See Literature Review - Media

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