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)

Tech Dirt | 22-Mar-2017
Just the fact that the Canadian government had to go through this massive and expensive process for many years just for rejecting two bad patents should show why ISDS provisions are such a problem.
Politico | 20-Mar-2017
Canada has prevailed over pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly in a long-running investor-state dispute the drug company filed under NAFTA’s investment chapter.
People Over Profit | 7-Mar-2017
People Over Profit Statement on the 17th Round of Negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in Kobe, Japan 27 Feb-3 March 2017
MSF | 3-Mar-2017
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) raises concerns over provisions under negotiation in the RCEP investment chapter that threaten to restrict access to affordable medicines for millions of people
The Australian | 2-Mar-2017
Taxpayers are still in the dark about how much of their money has been spent on fighting tobacco giant Philip Morris over plain packaging laws.
The Tyee | 28-Feb-2017
FIPA means province could be blocked from improving care standards for residents.
Sunday Guardian Live | 27-Feb-2017
There is no principled basis for EU’s demand of extending patent protection beyond the period of 20 years.
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?

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