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US-FTA blocks medicine for many

Prensa Latina, Cuba

US-FTA Blocks Medicine for Many

24 April 2006

Guatemala, Apr 24 (Prensa Latina) The Guatemalan pharmaceutical industry is the strongest company in Central America and among the first 10 in Latin America, but it is today threatened by the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with United States.

"The FTA is not a free trade agreement for us because the United States clearly said what it wanted and Central America just said: OK, we accept,"pharmaceutical industry spokesperson Luis Velasquez told Prensa Latina.

The president of the Guatemalan Pharmaceutical Industry Association recalled the FTA concluded negotiations in December 2003 and now the US demands to modify some 15 laws, among them that of Intellectual Property.

Interviewed on whether the pact goes against generic products, Velazquez responded: "Definitely it affects access to medicines and therefore affects health, access to agrochemical products, agricultural input and competition and food security."

He stated that currently with a patent "we give a 20-year monopoly and the FTA imposes another five additional years to protect data and 10 more in the case of agrochemical products."

This monopoly benefits producers of brand medicines and delays availability of generic products, making many products unattainable for Guatemalans.