Manifesto for the social appropriation of medicines

To sign the manifesto, follow the link: http://medicament-bien-commun.org

What we stand for:

  • Health is a universal right: States, public authorities, all persons operating in the domain of health, must guarantee equal access to quality care and treatment for all.
  • Access to medication is a human right based on the inalienable right to care.
  • Equal access to medicines is a prerequisite for the enjoyment of the right to health. In this sense, medicines are to be considered a common good of humanity, conditional on the collective and democratic appropriation of peoples, in each country and on a global scale.
  • It is necessary to abolish the concept of private property and monopoly of intellectual property rights over medicines granted by patents.
  • We want to break with the logic of financial profitability in order to give primacy to the protection of public health.
  • The principle of global public and environmental health, the creation of a new ecosystem, the refoundation of international cooperation and the establishment of universal social security are the values ​​that guide our actions.

Actual context:

Drug production, viewed from the perspective of commodity production, does not meet people’s needs:

– The global medicines market signifies a turnover exceeding 1000 billion Euros, with profitability of 20%, the most profitable in capitalism, giving the pharmaceutical industries considerable power in the economic sector. Considering medicines as a mere marketable good, pharmaceutical industries spend more on marketing, lobbying than on Research & Development (R & D) while justifying selling prices by the cost of R & D.

– Under the pretext of innovative treatments, a game of fools takes place between governments, health decision-makers and executives of the pharmaceutical multinationals, obtaining high price payments for pharmaceutical molecules of often low-value medical interest. Thus, all over the world, pharma companies draw on funds of the welfare systems and public insurance funds such as the Social Security system of France. In defiance of public health needs, and in a total lack of transparency, the pharmaceutical groups thus ensure a source of comfortable profits, to the great satisfaction of their shareholders.

– The pharmaceutical industry, owning patents of the most profitable molecules, called blockbusters, has exploited this policy to the fullest extent in order to dominate the market, generating billions of dollars of benefits. To the point of saturating with equivalent molecules some therapeutic areas while other essential areas are often neglected.

– In search of new strategies, Big Pharma on one hand outsource research to public laboratories or small companies, and secondly orient themselves towards developing biological medicines, more difficult to copy, allowing them to to demand exorbitant prices. These new therapies will only benefit creditworthy markets. This commercial logic orients research in a discriminated manner leading to stopping research in several essential therapeutic areas.

– The application of the patent legal system to medicines gives the multinationals discretion to set sales prices. Medicines are subject to the common law of patentable products. Under the argument of encouraging R & D investment in the private sectors,  application of the patent legal system to medicines preserves pharmaceutical companies from all competition during the 20 years of exclusivity.

Since the 1980s, at the instigation of large pharmaceutical companies, intellectual property rights on medicines are constantly being reinforced. Thus, under the auspices of the WTO, agreements on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS – Marrakesh, 1994) set  a pattern of aggressive exploitation of intellectual property on international scale, aggravated by the TRIPS + provisions. Finally, under the cover of development of gene therapies and via public-private partnerships, private companies have obtained the exploitation of intellectual property rights over the results of public university research, thus enabling them to extend patentability to the field of the living matter.

This is often the case of targeted cancer treatments (based on genetic characteristics), whose prices are so enormous that only a small number of people possessing enough  financial means will be able to benefit from.

The selling prices of the drugs, and subsequent profit margins, can only be explained by the application of patents and the resulting monopoly. The main consequence of such a system is making access to medicines difficult or even impossible for entire populations.

We pledge for:

  • Universal access to health care and medicines. Public authorities must guarantee this right according to the criteria of equality, quality and safety, which implies a public health policy, public services and research budgets that meet these needs.
  • Opposing  commodification and commoditization of health care, medicines included, so that public health goals are no longer dominated by by consumerist models. Essential drugs, when “available, economically affordable, of good quality, and well used,” make possible to meet priority health needs of the population.
  • Opposing the use of human populations as human guinea pigs, for testing new molecules, against food or other retribution.
  • The exit of  of pharma industry strategies aiming at profitability of the capital and exerting strong pressures on the public policies of health. To do this, new models of R & D, production and distribution of quality products, controlled by citizens, must be put in place.
  • Setting free and promoting research. The organization and direction of basic research should not be subject to the financial aims of pharmaceutical firms. The use of the results of research and the development of innovations that can lead to therapeutic improvements must be defined according to the public health needs of the world population and to the general interest, under the control of citizens. International cooperation should be encouraged and public funding provided at the necessary level. Results, new discoveries and innovations, must be made public so that the pool of scientific knowledge of the world is enriched and knowledge shared.
  • The re-establishing international legislation on intellectual and industrial property rights for medicines, on the basis of primacy of public health.

Therefore:

  • The patent system on drugs must be abrogated. Derogations obtained by some countries to circumvent patent (compulsory licensing) have certainly temporarily compelled pharmaceutical firms to withdraw exorbitant demands, but they don’t resolve the problem on the long term.
  • The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the TRIPS + provisions, making developing countries lose their full scope of public health policy, and limiting the latitude of action of potential producer developed countries, have to be denounced.
  • The European Directive 98/44 on the patentability of genetic sequences and organisms containing patentable entities has to be reviewed.

We propose to all healthcare users and actors, to mobilize for claiming the social and public appropriation of the pharmaceuticals production and supply chain.

It is necessary and urgent to promote the values ​​of solidarity and universality as the foundation of our health systems. We must therefore take away from a tiny minority of persons, shareholders and decision-makers, the power of decision-making in order to achieve that real answers to the needs of billions of humans are actually provided.

First signatories  of the manifesto for the social appropriation of medicines

  • BESANCENOT Olivier, postman, spokesman of the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), France
  • BLANCHIN Monique, general practitioner, France
  • BUVRY Cécile, general practitioner, France
  • BODIN Thierry, researcher at Sanofi, unionist, France
  • BONNAUD Christian, general practitioner, France
  • CHAOUAT Gérard, Emeritus Research Director, immunologist
  • COADOU Bernard, general practitioner, France
  • COHEN Fabien, dentist, political activist, France
  • COHEN Laurence, senator, communist , republican, citizen and ecologist senate group (CRCE) social affairs commission, France
  • COURS-SALIES Pierre sociologist
  • DAENINCKX Didier, writer
  • DARRE Patrick political activist, France
  • DHARREVILLE Pierre, MP, “Bouches du Rhône” electoral district, Democratic and Republican Left parliamentary Group (GDR), France
  • DIAZ HUGO Aurélien, general practitioner, France
  • DUBOIS Bernard, unionist at Sanofi, France
  • FARMAKIDES Anne Marie sociologist
  • FATH Jacques, international issues specialist
  • GETZ Guillaume, chairperson of the professional Union for General Practice (SMG), France
  • GIRAUD André, accountant at Roussel-Uclaf, France
  • GUEYE MAMADOU Moustapha, political activist, France
  • JACQUAINT Muguette, working woman, honorary MP, France
  • KABIR Marmar, unionist at  Sanofi
  • KABIR Shering, correspondent of “Le Monde Diplomatique” monthly journal
  • KISTER Jean, researcher at INSERM, unionist, France
  • KLOPP Serge, psychiatric nurse, political activist, France
  • KOSADINOS Emmanuel, psychiatrist, People’s Health Movement (PHM)
  • LACOUR Annick, pharmacologist, unionist at Sanofi
  • LAMBERT Didier, co-chairperson of the E3M patients’ society, France
  • LARUE Sylvie, teacher, political activist, France
  • LECHAUVE Daniel, working personnel at Sanofi, unionist, France
  • LEMAIRE-HEITZ Anne-Laure, film and theatre director
  • LIEBAERT Martine, unionist at Sanofi, France
  • LORAND Isabelle, surgeon, political activist, France
  • MAGUET Olivier, France
  • MAMET Jean-Claude, unionist and blogger (syndicollectif.fr), France
  • MANDINE Eliane, researcher at Sanofi
  • MARCHILLE Jean, citizen, France
  • MARTELLI Roger, historian
  • MARTIN Jean-Pierre, union activist at USP, France
  • MONTEL Danielle, pharmacologist, researcher at Sanofi, unionist, France
  • MOUREREAU Michel, physiotherapist, France
  • NDIAVE CHEIK Amadou Bamba, France
  • OLIVE Danièle, psychoanalyst
  • PERCEBOIS Bruno, pediatrician, international health and welfare activist
  • PEYREN Jean-Louis, chemical production technician, unionist, France
  • PEU Stéphane, MP, “Seine Saint Denis” electoral district, Democratic and Republican Left parliamentary Group (GDR), France
  • PIGNARRE Philippe, editor, France
  • PINEAU Jacques, France
  • POYET Marie-Ange, librarian, journalist, France
  • PRUDHOMME Christophe, spokesman of the Association of Emergency Physicians of France
  • RAVELLI Quentin, sociologist
  • RIOLINO Patrick, company manager (SARL) deputy mayor, France
  • SANCHEZ Danielle, engineer, political activist, France
  • SHAMMAS Catherine, physician, professional Union for General Practice (SMG), France
  • SILBERSTEIN Patrick, general practitioner, France
  • SITEL Francis, editor at the “Contretemps” revue , France
  • STEINMETZ Daniel, engineer at the CNRS, France
  • TOURNEUX Stéphane, unionist, France
  • TOVAR José, teacher, unionist, France
  • TRAUTMANN Alain, immunologist, researcher at CNRS, France
  • VERGNAUD Daniel, pharmacology technician, unionist, France
  • VIGNES Jean, psychiatric nurse, unionist, France
  • WURTZ Francis, honorary European MP, France