EU denies delays to drug law costs lives

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The European Commission clashed with the UK yesterday over plans to make cheap drugs available to the Third World, as Brussels rejected British claims that bureaucratic delays were costing lives.

The European Commission clashed with the UK yesterday over plans to make cheap drugs available to the Third World, as Brussels rejected British claims that bureaucratic delays were costing lives.

In a letter, the EC commissioner for Trade, Pascal Lamy, said three British ministers were wrong to say patients in developing countries were suffering because of the time being taken to draft EU law. Mr Lamy said the UK was wrong to cite translation difficulties as the problem.

The row revolves around measures, agreed a year ago in the World Trade Organisation, to allow developing countries cheaper generic drugs to combat diseases such as HIV/Aids. The plan is part of the battle to save lives in countries where the cost of Western drugs exclude the poorest from medical help.

The EU has 20 official languages into which all laws must be translated. But Mr Lamy said the delay was being caused by a determination to ensure the final version was "legally watertight".

A spokesman for the Treasury said: "We are pleased that Mr Lamy accepts the importance of this issue and the need for urgent action. Given his assurances that translation is not causing delay we look forward to the implementation of this vital legislation at the earliest opportunity."

Comments