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)

Asian Tribune | 24-Jul-2017
Officials from ASEAN member states and other countries meeting in India this week for negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) should take steps to ensure that the trade deal safeguards human rights, Southeast Asian lawmakers said today.
Info Justice | 14-Jul-2017
The cool reasoning of the Canadian Supreme Court does not acknowledge or reference “external” pressures or the Eli Lilly v. Canada ISDS case. However, courts do not decide cases in a vacuum. This case seems to have been decided in a pressure cooker.
APWLD | 13-Jul-2017
The ’No RCEP’ campaign urges governments to consider the adverse impact of the mega free trade agreement
BBC | 10-Jul-2017
Tobacco giant Philip Morris has been ordered to pay the Australian government millions of dollars after unsuccessfully suing the nation over its world-first plain-packaging laws.
Focus on the Global South | 1-Jun-2017
In the recent “RCEP 18th Round of Talks,” members of civil society organizations and social movements presented their positions vis-à-vis the RCEP.
Inquirer.net | 18-May-2017
RCEP negotiations have been highly conspiratorial and undemocratic, with all 18 rounds of trade discussions held in secret and no reports shared with the public
People Over Profit | 12-May-2017
#NoRCEP week of actions at the 18th TNC Meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership
Forum on FTAs | 8-May-2017
RCEP magnifies existing inequalities and discriminates against women, indigenous peoples, people living with HIV or other illnesses, people with disabilities,rural communities, farmers and workers
AFTINET | 3-May-2017
ISDS is increasingly being used by global corporations to challenge health, environment and other public interest laws.
IP Watch | 28-Apr-2017
Although Canada won in a unanimous decision, the ruling does not, however, guarantee domestic discretion going forward, contrary to the suggestion of some.

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