Health

The investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions proposed in trade agreements give pharmaceutical corporations the right to sue governments for compensation if domestic laws negatively affect future earnings on their intellectual property or investments, and even if these laws are in accordance with public interests. Better access to medicines or preventing unsafe or ineffective medicines from entering the market could prove problematic.

Major US, Canadian and French pharmaceutical companies have recently challenged pro-public health measures through ISDS disputes brought under ISDS provisions.

Chemical corporations have also used ISDS in numerous occasions to challenge national bans on hazardous substances.

Most well-known cases include:

• Ethyl (US) vs. Canada: following Canada’s ban on the toxic petrol additive MMT, the US producer sued for US$201 million in compensation. In 1998, Canada agreed in a settlement to pay US$13 million and withdrew the ban (NAFTA invoked).

• Eli Lilly (US) vs. Canada: the pharmaceutical corporation challenged Canada’s patent standards after Canadian courts invalidated the company’s supplementary patents for Strattera and Zyprexa, claiming the drugs were not sufficiently innovative. The investor is claiming C$500 million. Case pending (NAFTA invoked).

• Dow Chemical (US) vs. Canada: the chemical corporation initiated a dispute for losses it alleged were caused by a Quebec provincial ban on lawn pesticides containing the active ingredient 2,4-D, classified as a possible carcinogen and one of the ingredients in Agent Orange, the herbicide widely used during the Vietnam war. In a settlement in 2011, the ban was sustained but Quebec was required to state that “products containing 2,4-D do not pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment provided that the instructions on their label are followed.” (NAFTA invoked.)

(October 2015)

El Salto Diario | 4-Oct-2018
En la medianoche del domingo, y tras meses de fuertes tensiones diplomáticas, los gobiernos de los Estados Unidos y de Canadá adoptaron un nuevo acuerdo comercial preliminar, junto con México, que ahora se llamaría United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA, el Acuerdo de los Estados Unidos con México y Canadá), reafirmando el papel hegemónico estadounidense. Este tipo de acuerdos provocan la precarización laboral, la bajada de salarios y daños ambientales irreversibles.
L’Express Maurice | 21-Aug-2018
Christian Doutremepuich et son fils Antoine, deux investisseurs français, ont initié une procédure d’arbitrage international à l’encontre de la République de Maurice du fait de l’abandon de leur projet de laboratoire d’ADN.
The Guardian | 2-Jul-2018
Two years after an FOI claim was lodged, the price of the six-year fight with Philip Morris has been revealed
Info Justice | 31-May-2018
Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) poses significant challenges in respect of tobacco control, public health, human rights, and sustainable development.
Sold down the Yangtze | 24-Mar-2018
The case of Ethyl v. Canada.
Kluwer Arbitration Blog | 13-Mar-2018
CJEU’s decision in Slovakia v Achmea finally bringing justice to the most recent members of the EU.
South China Morning Post | 12-Mar-2018
Political party says the newly signed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, which contains similar clauses to the Hong Kong deal, could prompt more costly challenges in The Hague
The Slovak Spectator | 7-Mar-2018
Slovakia will no longer have to compensate Achmea B.V., the shareholder of Union ZP health insurer, for €22 million in damage.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia | 30-Jan-2018
It is now time we open up the dialogue on the kind of trade agreements that we want to see in place.
Franceinfo | 5-Dec-2017
Comment la simple menace d’un arbitrage international peut suffire à dissuader un pays de s’opposer aux intérêts d’une multinationale, c’est le "chilling effect".

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