As EU-FTA negotiations resume, Moroccan civil society is uniting to raise the alarm about the threat to access to cheaper generic medicines in the country.
The European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco will enter the 5th round of negotiations on the EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) once Morocco finalizes an impact study on the sectors covered. Civil society has been calling for a transparent process and consultation with civil society since the start of the negotiations in 2013. However, the impact assessment has not been transparent or shared with community actors, particularly those involved in access to health and medicines, and does not address the effects this agreement will have on public health and access to medicines.
The EU’s requirements include requiring the protection of intellectual property beyond international standards provided by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). This allows all countries to use flexibilities to protect public health interests, including access to generic versions of medicines. If clauses that go beyond standards are included, this will impede access to generic medicines in Morocco, to the detriment of the health of Moroccan patients.
As a middle-income country, Morocco is already in a difficult position when it comes to accessing medicines at an affordable price. Even though Morocco cannot afford brand-name drugs at prices set by major European and American laboratories, especially for expensive treatment such as HIV, hepatitis C, cancer and other chronic diseases, Morocco is systematically excluded from licenses granted by pharmaceutical multinationals that would allow access to generic versions of medicines.
The FTA is a two-tiered agreement, aimed at protecting European investments and serving the interests of large pharmaceutical multinationals, while Morocco has an interest in protecting the mechanisms authorized by international trade that guarantees Moroccan patients’ right to affordable medicines.
Right to health coalition
With the next round of negotiations imminent, several Moroccan health and human rights organizations have decided to create a coalition to demand the inclusion of Moroccan associations into the negotiating process. We believe that it is totally unacceptable to negotiate an agreement in total secrecy that will have repercussions on all sectors of Moroccan society. The signatories call for:
- A national debate on the national system for the protection of intellectual property and access to medicines
- A review of national intellectual property protection legislation and the elimination of all clauses that go beyond the requirements of the WTO
- The withdrawal of any provisions relating to intellectual and industrial property in the agreement under negotiation which go beyond what is required under the TRIPS agreements
The Collective for the Preservation of the Right to Health in Morocco:
- Adala Justice,
- Collective Right to Health,
- Confederation of Democratic Labor,
- National Federation of Amazigh Associations,
- Forum of Alternatives Morocco,
- ITPC MENA,
- Euromed Morocco network of NGOs.