UN Committee: Intellectual Property Rights Prevent Enjoying the “Right to Health”

Despite an extensive economic literature showing that free trade lowers prices for consumers and improves efficiency, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is concerned that free trade between the United States and Columbia will “negatively impact” the “enjoyment of the right to health” by increasing the price of medicines.

Specifically, it worries that a free trade between Columbia and the United States will harm people because it protects intellectual property.

The Committee membership list is here. The available member career summaries suggest that the entire committee membership is limited to people with legal, political, or activist experience in the tax supported sector.

Separately, the World Health Organization’s International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce reportedly estimates that counterfeit drugs comprise up to 30 percent of the drugs for sale in developing countries in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Counterfeit drugs tend to be less expensive than the real thing.

Unfortunately, the low prices so prized by the Committee may not make up for the fact that a fake pharmaceutical with toxic or inactive ingredients also may “negatively impact on the enjoyment of the right to health.”

Hat Tip: Pharmalot

Comments (4)

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  1. Devon Herrick says:

    The report is essentially saying the (relatively poor) local people will be harmed because they cannot free ride off the intellectual property rights of companies in wealthier countries. Free trade doesn’t appear to have had that result in China.

  2. Bruce says:

    Poor countries would be a lot poorer were it not for the intellectual property rights that have been established in developed countries.

  3. Larry C. says:

    I think there is a good argument here for abolishing the UN.

  4. Virginia says:

    The “right to health”? Uh huh. Next they’ll be suing the tooth fairy for not paying a living wage to the children of lost teeth.