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)

Prensa Latina | 27-Dec-2016
El triunfo del Gobierno de Uruguay ante la demanda establecida por la tabacalera transnacional Philip Morris constituyó en el año que termina un fuerte espaldarazo a las autoridades del pequeño país sudamericano en su campaña contra el tabaquismo.
La Tribune | 15-Dec-2016
Les accords commerciaux entre pays ont du plomb dans l’aile, à l’exemple de l’accord transatlantique Europe-Etats-Unis (Tafta/TTIP). Mais faut-il vraiment le regretter?
Live Mint | 14-Dec-2016
If we can manage our own economies well, new trade pacts will become largely redundant.
The Guardian | 28-Jul-2016
The tobacco giant has to pay $7m to the small South American nation in a dispute over cigarette adverts. But the case could still set a worrying precedent.
| 22-Jul-2016
A raíz de la adopción de una legislación para proteger al fumador contra los efectos del tabaco en el 2008, la empresa multinacional Philip Morris entabló una demanda contra Uruguay ante el Centro Internacional de Arreglo de Disputas entre Inversionista Extranjero y Estado (CIADI, más conocido por sus siglas en inglés ICSID) en el 2010.
Todd N. Tucker (blog) | 21-Jul-2016
All in all, a pretty good decision—although its limitations should be acknowledged.
Viet Nam News | 21-Jul-2016
The Vietnamese Government should bar certain industries from exploiting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) lest they damage public health, health activists warned.
The Next Turn | 19-Jul-2016
A private ISDS tribunal has just ruled in favor of Uruguay over its tobacco labeling legislation. But why do we even allow this game to take place in the first place, regardless of the chance of a fatal outcome.
La Diaria | 15-Jul-2016
La victoria de Uruguay en el caso Philip Morris no significa que el arbitraje de inversiones no sea muy problemático.

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