21 Jun 2017
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The Brussels Principles underscore the importance of the international online marketplace as a lifeline of affordable medication for the millions of people forced to go without necessary treatment due to drug cost and availability.

On March 31st, 2017, Prescription Justice organized a panel for the RightsCon 2017 conference in Brussels, which addressed protecting online access to safe and affordable medication. The organizers of RightsCon just published their outcomes document in which Prescription Justice’s effort to bring together both medicines access and Internet freedom advocates was recognized.

At that conference, the participants discussed a set of draft principles pertaining to medication sales over the Internet and prescription drug importation. The prevailing position among the panelists was that initiatives funded by the pharmaceutical industry that affect access to medicines on the Internet were detrimental to the cause of prescription drug affordability.

Along with our endorsement, we’re excited to announce that Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) has endorsed the Brussels Principles on Medication Sales over the Internet. KEI’s endorsement is important for the cause of online access to affordable medication due to the respect the organization commands globally on issues relating to prescription drug pricing and social justice.

Promoting the Brussels Principles will bring us closer to the creation of shared global norms around online medication sales and justice in pharmaceutical pricing overall.

Brussels Principles on Medication Sales over the Internet

Recognizing,

that the cost and local availability of medication is a global barrier to essential medical treatments for hundreds of millions of people;

that the Internet has served as a disruptive force to traditional industry in the practice of pharmacy and trade in pharmaceuticals, allowing for the ethical international sale of medications to patients;

that countries are neglecting their human rights obligations when their citizens do not have adequate access to affordable healthcare, including medication;

We affirm the following principles relating to the sale of medicine ordered for personal use on the Internet:

·         Access to affordable medications is an essential component to the fundamental human right to health.

·         Laws, regulations, and enforcement actions that impede online access to lower-priced, lawfully manufactured medication can be inimical to public health.

·         Consumers should be able to use the Internet to order and have delivered through the mail safe and affordable medications.

·         National laws can violate fundamental human rights when their effect prevents and, or, deters, citizens from importing medications for personal use who, because of cost or other access reasons, when patients have no other realistic options.

·         Countries, and international organizations to which they belong, should promote a competitive online marketplace for safe pharmaceuticals, one that respects and empowers consumers, recognizing the need for policies that protect and facilitate affordability of drugs in countries with different incomes.

·         Policies that affect online access to medication should be consumer-focused, patient-centered, evidence-based, and created with the understanding that prices often prohibit access.

·         Recognizing the public health benefit in enabling consumers to find international online pharmacies that are safe and reliable, international and national enforcement efforts should focus on identifying and sanctioning online pharmacies that engage in the intentional sale of counterfeit and falsified medication, as defined by the World Health Organization, and otherwise ensuring that online pharmacies are a reliable and safe source of medications.

·         Internet intermediaries, such as domain name registries, advertising networks, payment processors, financial institutions and mail and delivery services should not misuse their commercial power to disrupt online access to lawful, safe and affordable medication.

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