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Local Euro MP signs up to campaign for cheaper HIV drugs

November 26, 2009 11:30 AM
Originally published by Liz Lynne

Local LibDem MEP Liz Lynne has this week signed up to a campaign backing a voluntary patent pool to produce better and cheaper AIDS medicines for developing countries.

The Midlands MEP has signed a Parliamentary written declaration calling for the EU and member countries to give practical support to the plan, which the United Nations agency UNITAID believes is vital to beat HIV.

The declaration also calls on drug companies to help accelerate the availability of HIV treatments at an affordable price, as millions of people living with HIV/AIDS in the developing world have only rudimentary national health systems and cannot afford to buy medicines they need.

Liz Lynne said: "This week we heard an announcement that the AIDS pandemic is no longer growing, worldwide, but it would be a terrible mistake if we thought the battle is already won.

"Across the world, the statistics of unnecessary and early deaths are appalling. As this Declaration notes, only a third of the 10 million people who need antiretroviral drugs have access to it.

"Only one in ten of the 2 million children with HIV get the drugs they need, and some antiretroviral drugs are not licenced to be used for children.

"We also should not ignore the fact that increasing numbers of AIDS patients are failing to respond to first-line therapy and therefore there is an urgent need to find affordable second-line treatments.

"The patent pool is a brilliant idea to bring down the cost of developing new drugs. Patents held by different parties would be brought together voluntarily in exchange for a share of royalties, and made available to help develop and produce new medicines. If these new drugs are not found, developed and made available at a realistic price, then much of the progress made in recent years could be lost. A patent pool would not just benefit the third world, but any health service including the NHS, who spend many millions every year on drugs to fight HIV."

The MEPs backing the Declaration believe the EU Commission, Council of Ministers and EU member countries can all put effective pressure on drug companies to co-operate with UNITAID on the patent pool scheme. The Declaration needs 369 signatories from MEPs around Europe to force a debate in the European Parliament on the issue.

ENDS

Note: The full text of the declaration can be found here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+WDECL+P7-DCL-2009-0055+0+DOC+WORD+V0//EN&language=EN