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EU 'harming international healthcare with trade rules'

Humanitarian charities have accused the European Union (EU) of favouring big pharmaceutical companies over the healthcare of the world’s poorest people.

Issued jointly by Oxfam and Health Action International Europe, a new report maintains that a total of 19 shipments of medicine bound for developing nations were seized under rules that contravene World Trade Organization agreements.

A combination of tougher intellectual property laws and limits on low-priced treatments mean it is becoming increasingly difficult for people in the third-world to access medical treatment, it adds.

Elise Ford, Oxfam head of EU advocacy, said the member nations are "guilty of double standards" as most are currently imposing their own price controls.

"A crackdown on European pharmaceutical prices is happening alongside a concerted effort to further push intellectual property rules that prevent poor countries from buying affordable medicines," she noted.

Her comments come as the European Commission promises more research and better monitoring to reduce health inequality within the union.

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