EU lawmakers reject anti-counterfeiting trade agreement

On Wednesday, the European Parliament voted 478 to 39, with 165 abstentions, against ratifying the anti-counterfeiting trade agreement (ACTA) aimed at curtailing trade in counterfeit goods, including medicines. The international copyright agreement, which required European parliamentary approval for its adoption, would have standardised laws protecting developers of products that are often the subject to intellectual property disputes, with some suggesting it could also have limited access to generic drugs exported from developing countries.

Aziz ur Rehman, intellectual property advisor to Médecins Sans Frontières' Access Campaign, stated that "the way it was written, ACTA would have given an unfair advantage to patented medicines, and restricted access to affordable generic medicines to the detriment of patients and treatment providers alike." ACTA was negotiated by the EU and its member states, as well as the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland.

In 2009, the EU's industry commissioner warned that the region would take action against the increasing number of counterfeit drugs being seized on the continent.

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