Advocates Meet to Strategize Future of Access to Medicines Movement

From December 13 to 15, 2011, 30 activists primarily from low resource countries traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, to identify specific strategies and activities to grow the access to medicines movement. 

The meeting came amid an increasing number of threats to access to medicines, including a more aggressive agenda by major pharmaceutical corporations. Numerous initiatives throughout the world seek to enforce stringent intellectual property provisions and adopt free trade agreements that favor greater protections for industries rather than patients. The ongoing battles in India over the EU trade agreement and in the courts are particularly concerning.

Given the number of threats and an increasingly challenging environment, advocates identified an urgent need to strategize a response to raise awareness and engagement among citizens and to hold governments accountable. 

The Bangkok meeting featured detailed discussion of specific legal and policy opportunities for civil society to push back on intellectual property provisions, as well as discussion on possible roles for civil society in promoting needs driven medicine research and development (R&D). The advocates made several recommendations for next steps based on the discussion, including strengthening the use of existing legal and policy tools, pushing back on free trade agreements, creating an R&D agenda, forging partnerships with the non-communicable diseases community, and continuing to move forward on access to treatment for Hepatitis C.

The meeting was hosted by the Open Society Foundations’ Access to Essential Medicines Initiative and co-organized by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition and I-MAK.

Further information—including materials, presentations, and the full meeting report—are available online here