Month: January 2020

È TEMPO DI RENDERE TRASPARENTE IL SETTORE FARMACEUTICO (TUTELANDO I BREVETTI)

La trasparenza nei prezzi dei farmaci può essere positiva per i consumatori, a patto che vada di pari passo con il riconoscimento dei diritti di proprietà intellettuale e il valore dei brevetti. Un processo più chiaro e poche regole certe potrebbero velocizzare l’approvazione dei farmaci più innovativi. Che cosa possono fare l’OMS, l’Unione Europea e i singoli stati membri (inclusa l’Italia)?

Nel 2019, l’Organizzazione Mondiale della Sanità (OMS) ha approvato una risoluzione – proposta, tra gli altri, da Italia, Spagna e Lussemburgo – intesa a rendere più aperti e trasparenti i mercati farmaceutici, che sono tipicamente caratterizzati da grande opacità e prezzi alti. Uno degli obiettivi di questa risoluzione è la progressiva diffusione al pubblico di informazioni sulla copertura brevettuale e il marketing status di nuovi prodotti farmaceutici, oltre all’ottenimento di maggiore chiarezza sul drug pricing.

Sorprendentemente, il Regno Unito –  con Germania ed Ungheria –  si è dissociato dalla risoluzione, proponendo di posporre la revisione al Gennaio 2020. Non è un caso che proprio il Regno Unito abbia un sistema di diffusione di informazioni su nuovi prodotti farmaceutici opaco e poco consumer friendly. Ogni anno, infatti, il Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), l’autorità nazionale preposta alla regolamentazione del settore farmaceutico, approva dozzine di prodotti (inclusi farmaci generici a basso costo), ma invece di notificare e rendere pubbliche informazioni sulla loro disponibilità e copertura brevettuale le tiene in buona parte nascoste. Per questa ragione i pazienti e gli operatori sanitari hanno difficoltà ad informarsi su quali farmaci siano o saranno presto disponibili sul mercato. Questo sistema si pone in controtendenza rispetto al trend internazionale di promuovere maggiore trasparenza e chiarezza. Sarebbe auspicabile quindi seguire le migliori pratiche internazionali e rilasciare pubblicamente più informazioni sui prodotti considerati per l’approvazione e sul loro statuto brevettuale.

Ad esempio, in Canada le Patented Medicine Regulations consentono il rilascio in tempo utile di queste informazioni, rendendo quindi i pazienti più informati su scelte di assistenza sanitaria. Inoltre, la maggiore trasparenza, come osservato dall’Organizzazione Mondiale della Sanità nel Pharmaceutical System Transparency and Accountability Assessment Tool, rende le decisioni pubbliche visibili e comprensibili al pubblico, rendendo quindi i governi più responsabili. Dal canto suo, L’Unione Europea ha da tempo adottato un simile meccanismo di notifica, che però riguarda solo alcuni tipi di medicinali innovativi e i farmaci orfani.

Purtroppo, in Italia manca una totale trasparenza di questo genere.Un governo aperto ed attento ai consumatori dovrebbe fornire ai pazienti, ai dottori e ai farmacisti le informazioni necessarie su quali prodotti siano in procinto di ricevere autorizzazione all’immissione sul mercato.

In conclusione, una maggiore trasparenza – in Italia ma anche altrove –  su informazioni riguardanti lo statuto brevettuale e l’approvazione all’immissione sul mercato dei prodotti farmaceutici possa aiutare consumatori e pazienti in diversi modi: in primo luogo, rinforzando i diritti di proprietà intellettuale, verrebbe incentivato il rilascio di prodotti innovativi ed efficienti; in secondo luogo, una maggiore chiarezza potrebbe accelerare il processo di approvazione di farmaci generici a basso costo.

Una possibile soluzione per l’Italia può essere l’implementazione di un database online che non solo elenchi medicinali brevettati in tempo reale, ma che mostri anche quali autorizzazioni all’immissione sul mercato vengono richieste dai produttori di farmaci. Idealmente, questi ultimi farebbero domanda di autorizzazione all’immissione sul mercato sulla stessa piattaforma, punto di riferimento per pazienti, operatori sanitari e produttori.

Al tempo di TripAdvisor, Amazon e Ocado, è ora che le nostre pubbliche amministrazioni diffondano questo genere di informazioni. I pazienti, i dottori e, più in generale, i consumatori ne trarrebbero grandi benefici.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

German minister endorses gene-editing technology

Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Julia Klöckner revealed her hopes for farmers to access genome-editing as a means of innovation in agriculture and the climate opportunities that it could deliver.

Analyst Bill Wirtz welcomed the announcement as positive news for consumers: “Gene-editing technologies such as CRISPR represent an enormous opportunity in the realm of medicine and agriculture. Governments around the globe should take their clues from the German minister, who shows that there remains an openness to scientific innovation in Europe,” he urged. “Agro-tech innovation, reducing land and water use while increasing crop yield, is essential in a climate-changing world.

“Gene-editing already offers multiple advantages to plant-breeding,” he continued. “For example, by creating allergen-free foods we could create immense change for people affected by potentially life-threatening allergies.”

As reported on thescottishfarmer.co.uk, on July, 25 the European Commission registered the Citizens’ Initiative ‘Grow scientific progress: crops matter!’ Amongst the initiators are German students. They argue in the description of the initiative that EU Directive 2001/18/EC is outdated, and suggest an automatic mechanism to review it.

Originally published here.


GO TO THE GENE EDITING REGULATION INDEX


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

GLP Releases Global Gene Editing Regulation Tracker and Index

The Genetic Literacy Project has developed two interactive tools that track and index gene editing and gene editing regulations worldwide, helping to illuminate how regulations can encourage or hinder innovation.

The Global Gene Editing Regulation Tracker and Index sum up gene editing regulations in the field of agriculture, medicine, and gene drives per country, giving a picture of each country’s regulatory timeline, and indicate which products and therapies are in the pipeline. Another important feature of the tracker is the information on the reaction of gene editing critics, as well as the scientist and public interest groups that are pushing to give the technology a chance.

The Gene Editing Regulatory Index, developed by GLP in partnership with Consumer Choice Center, serves as a companion tool with the tracker as it turns the information from the tracker into a quantifiable index for comparing data among countries. It can be used to show which countries are being more or less conservative in terms of regulations.

Originally published here.


GO TO THE GENE EDITING REGULATION INDEX


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Mehr Transparenz bei Medikamentenzulassung

Jedes Jahr lässt das Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte (BfArM), Deutschlands nationaler Agentur für Medikamente, dutzende Medikamente zu. Dabei handelt es sich sowohl um die neusten innovativen Medikamente aber auch um patentfreie Generika.

Mit dem Umzug der European Medicines Agency (EMA) von London nach Amsterdam fällt in Zukunft wahrscheinlich auch mehr Arbeit auf das BfArM, da dessen britisches Pendant MHRA der europäischen Agentur historisch stark unter die Arme griff. Doch bei Deutschlands Ansatz bei der Patentierung und Zulassung neuer Medikamente passiert nach wie vor zu viel in Hinterzimmern und ist weit von digitaler Transparenz für Patienten entfernt.

Für Patienten und Ärzte ist es in Deutschland schwer herauszufinden welche Medikamente kürzlich zugelassen wurden und was in den nächsten Monaten wahrscheinlich zugelassen wird. Dies macht Entscheidungen über einen möglichen Behandlungsplan und welche Medikamente verschrieben werden sollen deutlich schwieriger. Es ist an der Zeit dem internationalen Trend von mehr Transparenz und digitalen Informationsportalen für Patienten und Ärzten zu folgen und diese Informationen öffentlich zugänglich zu machen.

Während die EMA bereits eine solche Datenbank für innovative Medikamente und seltene Krankheiten (Orphan Drugs) betreibt, stehen Patienten in Deutschland bei den meisten Medikamenten weiterhin im Dunkeln. Ein offenes und transparentes Gesundheitswesen sollte Patienten und Ärzten diese Information zeitnah zur Verfügung stellen.

Im Jahresbericht des Bundesinstituts für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte finden sich ganze zwei Seiten über das betriebliche Gesundheitsmanagement, aber leider keine einzige Zahl darüber, wie viele Marktzulassungen im letzten Jahr erstellt wurden und um welche Medikamente es sich handelt.

Das Deutsche Institut für Medizinische Dokumentation und Information (DIMDI) verfügt über ein elektronisches Register dieser Informationen, lässt an die meisten Daten aber nur sogenannte Anzeigepflichtige heran. Für den öffentlichen Teil muss auch ein umständliches und kostenpflichtiges Rechercheverfahren eingeleitet werden. Dies ist weder bürgernah noch patientenfreundlich.

Kandas Patented Medicines Regulations sind ein gutes Beispiel, wie zeitnah Informationen über den Zulassungsstatus von Medikamenten an Patienten kommuniziert werden kann. Die kanadische Datenbank wird alle 24 Stunden erneuert. Ein solches offenes System erlaubt Patienten frühzeitig über mögliche Neuerungen informiert zu sein.

Singapur ist ein weiteres Land, bei dem Transparenz bei Medikamenten groß geschrieben wird. Deutschland ist aber nicht das einzige EU Mitgliedsland, das seine Datenbanken endlich ins 21ste Jahrhundert bringen muss. Länder wie Frankreich oder Italien haben auch keine wirklichen Antworten im Bereich patientenfreundliche Transparenz.

Eine einfach zu bedienende und kostenfreie Plattform, die sowohl alle zugelassenen als auch sich in Zulassung befindliche Medkimanete auflistet, wäre ein großer Gewinn für Patienten und Ärzte. Diese Plattform würde auch dabei behilflich sein oft langwierige Rechtsstreitigkeiten um Patentschutz zwischen verschiedenen Produzenten früh anzugehen. Markteintrittsverzögerungen aufgrund Patentstreitigkeiten würden so reduziert, da eventuelle Konflikte deutlich früher aufgedeckt werden würden.

In Zeiten von Amazon, TripAdvisor und Netflix ist es sehr eigenartig, dass Informationen über verfügbare Medikamente nicht einfach online einsehbar sind. Das Bundesgesundheitsministerium sollte mehr Transparenz schaffen und somit Patienten und Ärzten eine bessere Wissensgrundlage herstellen. Dies kann im Endeffekt sogar Leben retten, denn jede Verzögerung im Gesundheitswesen kann eine schlechtere Behandlung eines Patienten bedeuten. Und das kann durch eine einfache Reform und Offenlegung vorhandener Informationen verhindert werden.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Una oportunidad para transparentar el mercado de medicamentos en Perú y el Reino Unido

por Julio Clavijo

Las enfermedades no esperan, pero los gobiernos parecen no entenderlo. En Perú y Reino Unido, el acceso a medicamentos y la aprobación de nuevas alternativas se mantienen como uno de los principales problemas del sector de la salud.

Cada año, en el Reino Unido, la agencia regulatoria de medicina y productos de salud (MHRA por sus siglas en ingles), aprueba docenas de medicinas para su uso a nivel nacional. Esto incluye las nuevas medicinas patentadas y las genéricas de bajo costo.

Sin embargo, luego de Brexit, la MHRA tendrá más trabajo en este proceso debido a que la agencia europea de medicamentos (EMA) dejará de hacerse responsable de algunos de los pasos de aprobación de medicamentos innovadores para Reino Unido.

De igual forma, en Perú, los obstáculos y costos relacionados a la formalidad para acceder al mercado de medicamentos es sumamente elevada, con una excesiva tramitología y un sistema desactualizado y turbio que deja a los pacientes en la oscuridad sin alternativas de manera oportuna para su salud. En la actualidad, se calcula que US$200 millones de medicamentos informales se mueven en el Perú de acuerdo con un estudio encargado por el ComexPerú.

Adicionalmente, alrededor del 55% de los medicamentos adulterados son vendidos en establecimientos farmacéuticos debido a la falta de acceso a información y trazabilidad en los procesos, de acuerdo a lo reportado por la Dirección General de Medicamentos, Insumos y Drogas (Digemid).

La falta de transparencia y acceso a la información sobre los diversos medicamentos disponibles, al igual que su origen, trazabilidad y estado de aprobación de patentes, se encuentra entre las principales causales de los problemas que vive el sector salud, tanto en Reino Unido como en Perú.

Durante el 2019, la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) adoptó una resolución que insta a los gobiernos de sus países miembros a promover la transparencia en sus mercados farmacéuticos y de la salud, incluyendo la solicitud de dar acceso público a mayor información acerca de las medicinas disponibles y en desarrollo. Esta resolución, procura eliminar aquel secretismo que actualmente existe en la industria sobre su oferta disponible y las patentes o nuevos tratamientos que se encuentran en estado de aprobación para el uso general de las personas con problemas de salud.

La tendencia internacional hacia la transparencia y acceso público a la información vía la digitalización debería ser una oportunidad para resolver algunos de estos problemas. Entre estas mejores prácticas, se incluye información sobre el estatus de los medicamentos en sus distintas fases de aprobación, producción y tiempos para su disponibilidad en el mercado. En este sentido, Canadá demuestra ser un excelente ejemplo.

La regulación canadiense de medicamentos permite el oportuno acceso a la información para los usuarios y pacientes sobre sus alternativas dentro del sistema de salud para evitar problemas de acceso y adulteración de los medicamentos disponibles. La legislación vigente también permite que el Estado sea el principal responsable al liderar un proceso más transparente y funcional dentro del proceso de aprobación de medicamentos para consumo en el mercado.

Otras mejores prácticas incluyen también a Singapur, que posee un sistema abierto de información al igual que otros países desarrollados. En dicho sistema, a través de la digitalización de los procesos de aprobación de los medicamentos, el Estado revisa de manera eficiente la situación de patentes y aprobación de medicamentos previo a su comercialización.

Este tipo de iniciativas permiten que los mercados funcionen de mejor manera, evitando la adulteración de medicamentos, reduciendo los costos de comercialización y los precios de venta al público.

Un gobierno abierto y una cultura de acceso a información de manera transparente con los pacientes y usuarios del sector debería ser priorizada como política de Estado tanto en Perú como en Reino Unido. De igual forma, Italia y Francia también se encuentran entre la lista de países que carecen de una base de datos de fácil acceso sobre la oferta, origen, disponibilidad y patentes de medicamentos en sus respectivos países.

El acceso a la información y transparencia en el mercado de medicamentos aceleraría el proceso de aprobación de medicinas genéricas de bajo costo, que podrían salvar de manera inmediata una cantidad importante de vidas. Por este motivo, se vuelve indispensable que los usuarios y los pacientes tanto en Perú como en Reino Unido, soliciten la implementación de una base de datos en línea de acceso público que permita conocer en tiempo real el status y disponibilidad de los distintos medicamentos disponibles. Esto reforzaría una cultura de prevención y permitiría a los pacientes, profesionales de la salud, proveedores de la industria farmacéutica y establecimientos farmacéuticos acceder a información relevante para evitar problemas de desabastecimiento, abuso de precios o adulteración de los medicamentos utilizados.

En este sentido, se puede encontrar ejemplos como Amazon, TripAdvisor y Ocado, donde se puede acceder a información detallada y clara sobre cada producto. Algo similar se podría hacer en el sector salud, es decir, que el usuario pueda encontrar información fidedigna sobre medicamentos, su disponibilidad, origen y estado del medicamento en caso de patentes de una forma amigable y comprensible. En tal escenario, resultaría imperativo que la administración pública traiga consigo mayor transparencia e información en tiempo real a los pacientes y profesionales de la salud. Cualquier retraso en nuestros sistemas de salud se traducen en una reducción en la calidad de vida y en pleno siglo XXI conocido como la era de información nos merecemos algo acorde a los tiempos que vivimos.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

The World Health Organization fails us again: This time Coronavirus

Fred Roeder, Health Economist and Managing Director of the Consumer Choice Center

Last week when visiting Davos during the World Economic Forum, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, casually walked down the main street of the small alpine town without a worry in his face. At that moment, his organization saw  no international threat in the Chinese-originating coronavirus. This was despite worrying reports from China and questionable legitimacy of the official numbers provided by the Chinese Communist government.

Since then, the WHO has apologized and corrected their initial assessment. The virus is now seen as a high risk to the East Asian region and globally. 

History is repeating itself once more During the Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2014, it took the WHO months to finally declare an emergency. They were too tied up in fighting non-communicable diseases. 

The most important task, and the founding reason, of the WHO should be combating international diseases and coordination of rapid crisis responses. But unfortunately the Geneva-based agency spends much of its time with topics such as road safety, secondhand smoke, vaping, and the renovation of their own offices.

Next week the body’s executive board will convene from February 3rd-8th. Instead of revamping their agenda and fully focusing on how to contain the coronavirus, the current agenda prioritizes many other points before dealing with an international crisis response.

While our taxes should be spent on keeping us safe from this virus, the WHO’s board will instead spend the first couple of days discussing ideological ideas of universal healthcare reforms in emerging markets and how to limit patents of pharmaceutical companies. This is apparently more important for an agency that spends 10% of its 2 billion annual budget than figuring out how to effectively combat killer viruses. 

Once you scroll down the agenda of the meeting, you will finally find crisis response next to topics such as ‘aging in health’ and ‘renovation of the WHO Headquarters’.

So instead of putting the very real and scary threat of the Coronavirus first, the board members will prioritize how to limit incentives for the private sector to come up with treatments and vaccinations for the virus. Scrapping patents and limiting intellectual property rights are key pillars of the WHO’s priorities these days. Limiting patents is seen as a solution to curb health costs in emerging markets. For the international governmental organization, this seems to be an easier way than actually calling out their member states who often increase drug prices by 10-40% through import taxes and sales taxes paid by patients.

Chinese patients alone pay over 5 billion dollars a year on tariffs for drugs they import. In times of a massive health crisis in China, the WHO should urge the Chinese government to drop all of these tariffs momentarily.

After the Ebola outbreak in 2014, the private sector quickly reacted and several companies developed and delivered Ebola-vaccines at the same time. Now we need a similarly quick response for the coronavirus. Therefore, the WHO should not limit the innovative potential of the pharmaceutical industry but encourage them to invest in finding vaccines.

The coronavirus has already taken too many human lives and the situation will worsen. International trade and the global economy can also easily take a massive hit from a worsening situation. Instead of debating how to make the WHO’s offices better looking for natural light, its board should focus 100% on how to contain and combat the coronavirus. That’s priority number one.

Over and over, we see how the WHO fails to respond in an accurate and timely manner to such pandemics. It is high time for the agency to focus on its core mission: Protecting us from trans-national diseases.

Cannabis Conclave in Davos im Jahr 2020

Zum zweiten Mal in der Schweiz mit genauen Legalisierungsvorstellungen

2019 gab es eine Premiere auf dem Weltwirtschaftsforum in den Schweizer Gefilden um Davos. Menschen aus dem Cannabis-Business und Experten auf dem Gebiet luden zum geselligen Stelldichein ein und besprachen in exquisiter Atmosphäre die abgeschlossenen Entwicklungen und die Zukunft der Cannabis-Branche. Auch in diesem Jahr bot sich in Davos die Gelegenheit, mit den Geschäftemachern des speziellen Sektors und mit aufgeschlossenen Personen aus der Politik ins Gespräch zu kommen, um die Weichen für eine bessere Zukunft zu stellen. Dass es endlich an der Zeit für eine zeitgemäße Anpassung in der Drogen- und Gesundheitspolitik ist, bewies die Cannabis Conclave in Davos im Jahr 2020 erneut.

Auch im Jahr 2020 brachte die Cannabis Conclave verschiedene Führungskräfte der Cannabisindustrie, einige globale Investoren sowie politische Entscheidungsträger und internationale Medien zusammen, um die weltweite Legalisierungsdebatte – sowohl für Freizeit- als auch für medizinisches Cannabis – angemessen voranzutreiben und die wachsende Legitimität und Reife der legalen Cannabisindustrie hervorzuheben. Am 23. Januar fand das besondere Event statt, das unter anderem von dem North American Affairs Manager des Consumer Choice Center David Clement initiiert wurde. Im Gespräch mit dem Medical Cannabis Network gab Clement einige Details bekannt, die ihn zu seinem Engagement führten, welches er vor, während und nach den Tagen des Weltwirtschaftsforums benötigte und benötigen wird. „Sowohl auf internationaler als auch auf nationaler Ebene ist das Hauptproblem in der Thematik, dass die Gesetzgebung nicht auf Verbraucher oder Patienten ausgerichtet ist. Legalisierungsgesetze, ob im medizinischen Bereich oder bezüglich des Freizeitgebrauches, sollten immer den Zugang und die Erschwinglichkeit in den Vordergrund stellen. Leider ist dies in vielen Bereichen nicht der Fall. Es ist an der Zeit, dass internationale Gremien erkennen, dass der Krieg gegen Drogen ein Misserfolg ist, insbesondere wenn es um Cannabis geht. Ich denke, dass alle Länder in der Lage sein sollten, Cannabisvorschriften entsprechend ihren spezifischen Bedürfnissen zu erlassen. Trotzdem möchte ich alle Regierungen nachdrücklich ermutigen, den Krieg gegen Drogen aufzugeben und Cannabis zu legalisieren.“ Weiter führt David Clement an, dass es mehr Länder geben müsste, die sich dem Beispiel Kanadas annehmen und so zu einem internationalen Umschwung führen. „Die Legitimität der Branche kann dadurch gefestigt werden, dass weitere Länder die Legalisierung von Medizinalhanf und Freizeitgebrauch übernehmen. Kanada hat trotz seiner regulatorischen Fehler einen Kurs festgelegt, auf dem andere Länder diesem Beispiel folgen können. Wir sind zuversichtlich, dass in naher Zukunft ein Wendepunkt auf internationaler Ebene ansteht, wenn immer mehr Länder die Legalisierung übernehmen.“ Dass sich zumindest peu à peu etwas bewegt, ließ Clement dabei nicht unerwähnt. „Die großen Entwicklungen für Cannabis im Jahr 2020 werden neue Rechtsordnungen sein, die eine Legalisierung umfassen. Wir wissen, dass Luxemburg und Malta derzeit prüfen, wie ihr Legalisierungsprozess tatsächlich aussehen könnte. Ein großes Thema dieser beiden Länder ist die Frage, wie viel sie von Kanada lernen können. Wir hoffen beispielsweise, dass diese beiden Länder, obwohl sie die Legalisierung befürworten, eine Überregulierung von Cannabis vermeiden werden, wie sie in Kanada stattfand.“ Was er damit genau meint, führt der Affairs Manager des Consumer Choice Center auch an. „Nur durch patienten- und verbraucherfreundliche Vorschriften kann sichergestellt werden, dass die Legalisierung erfolgreich ist und der Schwarzmarkt verdrängt wird.“ Positiv wird David Clement auch dadurch gestimmt, dass die Welt nun mittlerweile ernsthaft zuhöre, wenn es um das Thema der Cannabislegalisierung geht – dies hätte ihm die Cannabis Conclave im Jahr 2020 in Davos bewiesen.

Der dort ebenfalls anwesende Stephen Murphy von Prohibition Partners sagte dazu in einem Interview mit Benzinga, dass es mit Cannabis erst jetzt vorangehe. Es fehlten derzeit noch die großen Marken auf dem Markt, sodass noch viel Platz für Teilnehmer übrig sei, die sich in dem vielversprechenden Geschäftsfeld versuchen wollen. Er betonte zudem, dass Cannabis zahlreiche Branchen abdeckt, darunter Getränke, Lebensmittel, Gesundheitswesen, Schönheitspflege, Wellness, Bauwesen, Textilien, Ingenieurwesen, Technologie, Tierpflege, Biokraftstoffe und sogar Bettwäsche. In den vergangenen drei Jahren, seitdem man seitens Prohibition Partners die Branche beobachte, habe dennoch bereits ein erstaunliches Wachstum stattgefunden, das nun weit über die damals fünf bis sechs existierenden Märkte reichen würde. Zudem gäbe es Hunderttausende von Menschen auf der ganzen Welt, die medizinisches Cannabis konsumierten, und man habe mittlerweile signifikante Beweise dafür, dass alleine diese Tatsache eine Umsetzung von neuen Gesetzen rechtfertige, sagte er. Man könne derzeit bestimmte Einstufungen benutzen, um den Zugang zu Cannabis in den unterschiedlichsten Ländern zu beschreiben. Es wäre daher eine sehr eingeschränkte und verzerrte Denkweise, wenn Menschen in Großbritannien verzweifelt an Cannabis zu medizinischen Zwecken gelangen wollten – dies aber nicht dürften, weil es von offizieller Stelle „nicht genug Daten“ gäbe – während in Israel und Kanada Personen damit schon lange behandelt werden. Immerhin habe man mittlerweile auch einen immer stärken Druck auf die unterschiedlichen Regulierungsbehörden feststellen können, welche allesamt eigene Gesetze, Richtlinien und Anträge zum Thema Cannabis besitzen. Es gäbe daher nun auch große Möglichkeiten für die Forschung und den allgemeinen Fortschritt, die die aktuell noch bestehenden großen Wissenslücken schrumpfen lassen könnten, welche global endlich unbedingt geschlossen werden müssten.

Legalize – worldwide!

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Flight shaming won’t save the planet

The so-called flygskamers, or ‘flight-shamers’, are everywhere. The flight shaming movement initially started in Sweden, then proceeded to spread its wings (ironically, at first) across Europe.

Some environmentalists are spearheading a social movement seeking to phase out humankind’s most innovative mode of transportation. Their strategy involves shaming those who travel by air into submission by overplaying the impact of aeroplanes on the environment.

Here are some verifiable facts to consider when it comes to global aviation:

80 per cent of aviation CO2 emissions are emitted from flights of over 1,500 kilometres, for which there are no alternatives but taking a plane.

Only two per cent of all human-induced carbon dioxide is emitted as a result of global aviation.

Modern planes are 80 per cent more fuel-efficient than those in use in the 1960s.

1.5 million people in Africa rely on fresh produce delivery by air from the UK alone.

Aviation carries 35 per cent of the value of global shipments, but only 0.5 per cent of the volume. This means that shipments are time-sensitive or very valuable.

The flight-shamers insist that buses and trains can replace their current means of transport. Discounting the substantial additional opportunity costs of these alternatives, let’s consider some more recent facts relating to train travel. Whoever is holding up nationalised rail as an alternative to rail transport should know this:

Just recently, employees of SNCF (France’s state-owned railway company) have been on strike again. Only 1-3 high-speed trains were running during that time, and almost no regional trains ran. The strike was unlimited and unpredictable. People didn’t know if they would be able to come home for the holidays.

Since 1947, there hasn’t been a single year without rail strikes.

Three months of strikes in 2018 cost €790 million, which is higher than its 2017 profits.

Their tickets aren’t cheap. Affordable ones are subsidised by taxpayers (and even by you as a visitor with every purchase you make) so real prices are much higher.

SNCF is €50bn in debt and runs a deficit of over half a billion each year.

There were 400,000 cancellations in 2018.

One-third of intercity and international trains are structurally delayed.

SNCF has paid €20 million in delay fees to rail station operators.

All this applies to an operator that is challenged not by competition but only by its own self-entitlement.

For the Berlin to London, which is a route all sane people travel by plane, a train journey would be excruciating, both on the price and the time. The existing tunnel is London to Lille (1h22). Lille to Berlin with current high-speed connections (SNCF and DB) takes between 11 and 14 hours (factor in SNCF strikes and 25 per cent of DB’s ICE trains being delayed and the timings would be even worse).

That means you’ll end up with four connections and about half a day of travel. That’s only if you’re lucky, which as a regular user of all of these services, I can say with confidence you probably won’t be.

But what about the environment? As ever, technology is leading the way to a brighter, greener future, with the aviation industry developing new and better technologies to clean up air travel.

Airbus’s new A321XLR, for example, has 30 per cent less kerosene consumption per passenger than the previous generation of planes, while adding 30 per cent more range than the current A321neo model.

That should be to nobody’s surprise. Neither the aviation sector and individual airlines have any incentive to use more kerosene than they need to.

The temerity that these campaigners must have to suggest to older people, in particular, that they ought to go back to the old days of disgusting, tiring and nerve-wrenching long train travels is quite rich. What’s worse, however, is distorting the reality of both global aviation and its alternatives.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 
consumerchoicecenter.org

THAT’S A WRAP. DAVOS 2020 IS IN THE BOOKS.

This was my third time in Davos and I was excited to meet and listen to business leaders, heads of government, NGO’s and senior journalists from all over the world. Would I learn something new this time? Would there be justified criticism? Would environmental or anti-globalist activists dominate this year’s agenda?

Some analysts doubt whether Davos has the power to deliver the inclusive and sustainable solutions people and planet are craving for in the next decade. And that it is time for action. Not just words. The WEF’s traditional response to the criticism that it is just too easy to freeride at Davos, is that it needs to be a neutral platform, open to conflicting views, even to those who are resistant to its goals. As the WEF’s founder Klaus Schwab says in the recent new documentary “Das Forum”, “If you were a priest in a church, you would want to make the sinners come visit you on a Sunday.”

For this year’s annual meeting, the WEF tried to put their money where their mouth was. On the one hand, it invited a panel of teenage activists including 17-year old Greta Thunberg to open one of its main sessions on the current climate crisis. On the other hand, the WEF warmly welcomed US President Donald Trump as an opening speaker with an endless bombastic re-election pitch.

While it’s easy to poke fun at Davos as a talkfest of the corporate elite, there are many more platforms in Davos than those official gatherings highlighted by mainstream media. While there are only 3,000 official participants, 30,000 others participate in side events. Below you can find my personal top five experiences – for what it’s worth.

1.“We have shown that we can stop election interference and ensure privacy” (Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook)

It was great listening to both Sheryl Sandberg and Nick Clegg, the former UK deputy Prime Minister who is now responsible for Facebook’s Global Affairs and its chief lobbyist. Sheryl Sandberg and Nick Clegg spoke at a private event in Davos and revealed that Facebook is rolling out a new “privacy checkup” to 2 billion people to see how their data is being used.

Despite stories about hacking, lack of diversity and other issues in the industry, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is optimistic about the potential of technology to improve people’s lives. She told attendees at a private event in Davos that the world is “in a clearly new and much more complicated age.” She said that while Davos historically focuses on economic security, she wanted to talk about how Facebook was chipping away at the problem.

We are democratising access for small businesses,” Sandberg said, citing an economic report that said 25 million small businesses led used Facebook apps, like Marketplace. The report also said Facebook created 3 million jobs in European economies.

While he acknowledged that Facebook did not know enough about removing bad content or preventing election interference in 2016, Clegg said. “We have shown in the elections since that we can stop election interference and ensure privacy.” Clegg was also clear in calls for greater government oversight. “We think there needs to be more constraints on companies like ours and more standards that we can all adhere to so we can decide together what is political speech, what is content that should be reviewed, what is privacy that individuals should have.” he said.

Despite what Sandberg called “major challenges” that Facebook is facing, she told attendees, “We think we are making progress because we are coming together and we continued willing to try our best to do more,” said Sandberg. “But when you give a voice to 2,8 billion people, some bad things will always happen.”

2. “The cybersecurity workforce is still too male and pale” (Jim Alkove, Chief Trust Officer Salesforce)

At the Invest in Flanders dinner, we had an interesting conversation with Jim Alkove, the Chief Trust Officer at Salesforce. Responsible for broad information management, privacy, fraud, abuse and reliability, he is the ambassador for the number one value at Salesforce, which is trust.

Jim Alkove explained how cybercrime is now a 5.2 trillion dollar threat to the world economy over the next 5 years. That’s the size of the economies of France, Italy and Spain combined. The good news is that a lot of this impact can be mitigated by an uptake in simple security hygiene like patching systems, software updates and implementing multi-factor authentication for users. The latter is often perceived as a pain for affluent users. But when we all first started using safety belts in cars, there were also a lot of people finding it inconvenient. Ultimately, we all know it is for the better.

Currently we are facing a cybersecurity skills shortage, equivalent to 3,5 million workers shortage worldwide by 2021. It is still a male and pale workforce. Salesforce is looking into how they can democratize the skillset and bring in a more innovative and diverse workforce into cybersecurity. They want to address the largest talent pool as they can, not just by traditional educational vehicles. That’s why Salesforce has built a cybersecurity Academy on their on-line learning platform. This allows everyone to come in and gain the skills they need to upskill and reskill into new jobs in cybersecurity.

3. Let there be light” (David Cohen, CEO Fluence)

For the 2nd year in a row, I joined the Cannabis Conclave, organised by the Consumer Choice Centre. They organised their summit again high up in the mountains, so I took the cable car to listen to the insights by some of the leading cannabis executives. The growing cannabis industry – both for recreational as well as medicinal use- is clearly one of the sectors to watch in the coming years. Participants were not only from the cannabis industry, but also included global investors, business journalists and policymakers.  The Consumer Choice Centre wants to use this event to fuel the legalisation debate globally and show the legitimacy and maturity of this growing legal industry.

It was encouraging to see that investors, thought leaders, researchers and public policy makers from all around the world (from Canada to Luxemburg to even China) are contributing to the growth of the cannabis industry. They ultimately serve consumers who are loudly demanding change to legal systems, health care and global sentiment. A better understanding of cannabis’ benefits has only helped as data and preliminary research continue to change the minds of even the most skeptical of skeptics.

One of the keynote speakers was David Cohen, CEO of Fluence by Osram (the German lighting company). In his illuminating keynote, he stressed the benefits of using LED lighting for cannabis growers. In the US -where it is legal to grow cannabis in an increasing number of states- 75 % of cannabis growers are now hinging lighting purchases based on energy efficiency and light intensity. His insights about the use of LED lighting confirm that the cannabis industry is taking a long-term approach for a stable, sustainable and profitable industry.

4. In essence, we are fueling a generation of change-agents” – (Noella Coursaris-Musunka, CEO and founder Malaika)

One of the most impressive sessions I attended, was a panel discussion full of strong women. Organised by the Global Citizen Forum and the Global Fund, this event wanted to explore the transformative power of education and healthcare and lay the groundwork of even greater impact. I was particularly impressed by Noella Coursaris-Musunka, the founder and CEO of Malaika. Founded in 2007, Malaika is impacting thousands of lives in the DRC through enhanced access to education, healthcare and clean water.  establishing a community-driven model that can be replicated on the global stage.

Malaika’s mission is to empower Congolese girls and their communities through education and health programs. This grassroots non-profit operates in the village of Kalebuka, in the Southeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Lubumbashi, DRC) and has changed an entire community.

An educated girl will increase her future earnings by approximately 10-20% for each additional year of schooling and will reinvest most of it back into her family and community. These are key factors in a nation’s socio-economic development, and yet girls still face immense obstacles in obtaining an education in the DRC. Malaika mobilizes resources so that these girls can receive the best schooling possible, providing them with greater choices, opportunities, and the capacity to make informed decisions.

Malaika’s goal is to build the leadership capacity of each individual student so that she gives back to her community and has a positive, long-term impact on the future of the DRC. “In essence, we are fueling a generation of change-agents” said Noella Coursaris-Musunka. At the same time, Malaika impacts the surrounding community through recreational and life skills programming for adults and children, as well as essential infrastructure development. With the exception of the locally hired Congolese teachers and support staff, Malaika is operated by pro bono experts and volunteers from the public and private sector.

5. Never eat alone” (inspired by Keith Ferrazzi)

For the third year in a row, we hosted a small dinner discussion in Davos, right after the traditional Belgian power reception with the Belgian PM Sophie Wilmes and King Philippe.

We enjoyed a warm evening reconnecting with old and new Belgian friends and 2 fellow Dutchmen. At the same time this allowed us to escape the speed dating madness of the Davos mountain. Itwas an informal evening with policymakers, business executives and opinion makers where networking took a backseat to fellowship and joy and a welcome opportunity to disengage from the hectic fervor of Davos.

What does it take to transform Flanders, Belgium or Europe in a more dynamic region? How do we create more wealth? How can we provide an answer to the challenges of the 21st century? In order to tackle these matters, we brought together a selected group of business leaders, policy makers and opinion leaders during a convivial Swiss dinner for an open discussion.

Concluding: nearly every conversation in Davos concerned either climate action or sustainability. That was made easier because going green is now profitable a lot of the time. The drivers for companies to become more sustainable are coming from everywhere – the science, initiatives from governments and regulators, increased consumer pressure and demands from investors. The best-prepared businesses see opportunities as well as risks and are preparing accordingly.

Never underestimate the power of talk, something at which Davos Woman and Davos Man excel. Davos can be more than empty words and gestures, if it helps to create a consensus about the need for collective action to tackle global challenges such as climate change. That’s what Davos is all about. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s called influence.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 
consumerchoicecenter.org

Uber seeks injunction against City of Surrey

Uber has asked the B.C. Supreme Court to issue an injunction after Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum promised bylaw officers would fine drivers and the company for operating in the city without a business licence.

Over the weekend, the city issued 18 warnings to drivers and $1,000 in fines to Uber, and the mayor said on Monday that the grace period was over and drivers would be fined, along with the company. Uber’s head of western Canada, Michael van Hemmen, said in an emailed statement that he believes the tickets are illegal.

“The city’s actions are unfair to local residents who want to earn money and support their families. It is also unfair to those who need a safe, affordable and reliable ride,” said van Hemmen.

The requested injunction would prevent the city from fining, ticketing or otherwise sanctioning the company and its drivers for working in Surrey, pending a court hearing. Uber is also asking that the city pay the company’s court costs.

“Our preference is to work collaboratively with municipalities, and we are doing so across the region,” van Hemmen said. “However, Uber must stand up when drivers and riders are being bullied and intimidated, especially when the province has confirmed drivers have the legal right to use Uber’s app, and to earn money driving with the app.”

McCallum told reporters that he wasn’t concerned about the threat of legal action, because the city receives notices about legal action regarding bylaws on a regular basis.

“We feel that the ride hailing, or especially Uber, is not abiding by our bylaws. It does not have a business licence at this time to operate in Surrey,” McCallum said. “The same as any commercial business or any retail outlet we expect that all businesses, including commercial ride hailing companies, will respect our bylaws and will get a business licence.”

He said the city’s lawyers have told him Surrey has the legal right to fine Uber and its drivers because they don’t have a business licence.

“So, we will carry it forward,” he said.

Uber has not shied away from legal fights with other jurisdictions, such as New York City, the State of California and Sokie, Illinois.

McCallum invited Uber to apply for the same kind of business licence a taxi company must obtain to operate — taxi companies pay $161.75 a year for a Surrey business licence, plus $441.50 for each taxi — but did not say whether Uber or any other ride-hailing company would be approved if it did apply.

Uber said because the city does not have a specific business licence for ride hailing, like the ones in Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby, Delta or the Tri-Cities, there is no licence for which to apply.

“According to provincial law, ride sharing is not taxi,” it said in a previous statement.

Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena said no municipality has the authority to block ride hailing, but they do have the ability to regulate the service through business licensing.

“Surrey has obviously gone ahead and said that the companies need a business licence, and they have not issued business licenses, and so that’s really a matter of between, I would suggest, Surrey and the companies,” Trevena said.

The type of licence the municipality requires is up to them — it does not have to be a ride-hailing business licence.

“We’ve set the framework, we’ve created these legislative amendments and made sure that we’ve got the framework in place, including the ability for municipalities to have business license or to use business as they so wish,” Trevena said. “But, it’s not up to us to say what sort of business licence the municipality is issuing and isn’t issuing.”

She also said how a city enforces its business licensing and bylaws is up to them.

When asked what would happen if a municipality did try and block ride hailing in any way, Trevena said it will be up to those who have an issue with a municipality to take legal action. However the province could come up with penalties if necessary.

Uber said although it won’t get a business licence, its app will continue to be available to those who want a ride within its Surrey service area, which includes a large swath of the city.

Uber driver Aloys Mbella, who lives in Surrey, said he had no trouble getting fares on Tuesday morning, having picked up four people within his first hour on the road. As he drove through the city, Mbella said he was not concerned about being fined and would continue to pick up customers in Surrey.

Uber said it supports an inter-municipal business licence, which is being developed by TransLink. It’s expected to be drafted within the next week, at which time it will go to Metro Vancouver municipal councils for consideration. Participation in the regional licence will be voluntary.

McCallum said he is waiting for the inter-municipal licence to be considered by the Mayors’ Council before taking action in his own city. He said he supports the process, even though he was the only mayor to vote against the licensing scheme at a Mayors’ Council meeting in December.

Surrey Coun. Brenda Locke, who left McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition last year and has since formed Surrey Connect, said it’s unfortunate that fines are being issued. She said the city should work with the taxi industry and Uber to make things work “in a civilized way.”

“I think Uber’s got its back up against the wall and they have to take legal action because there’s a possibility that Surrey is absolutely wrong in what they’re doing,” she said. “This is what’s going to happen when cooler heads can’t prevail and people can’t act maturely about what is going to be happening in our province.”

Coun. Linda Annis, who is a Surrey First councillor, said making bylaw officers write tickets to Uber drivers is a bad use of resources, and she is upset and disappointed by what is happening in Surrey.

“I lay it at the feet of the mayor. Certainly the bylaw officers, this is not an initiative that they would take on their own, and they obviously received instruction from somewhere, and that’s just not acceptable to me,” she said.

When it comes to legal challenges, Annis echoed Locke’s comments that they’d be better off working together.

“I think when you’re starting any relationship, it’s really, really bad to be talking about lawsuits,” she said. “We have to work collaboratively with our ride-hailing partners. It’s a service we need to have in Surrey. We need to start off in a collaborative way, not a confrontational manner.”

The Consumer Choice Center, an international advocacy group, derided Surrey’s bylaw enforcement against Uber drivers, and called it taxi industry “cronyism.”

“Going after Uber drivers does nothing but hurt consumer choice and put public safety at risk,” said the centre’s Toronto-based North American affairs manager, David Clement.

“We know from peer reviewed research that for every month ride sharing is legal, impaired driving arrests decline by 0.8 per cent. Mayor McCallum may say that he is trying to protect community safety, but the reality is that he is just trying to protect the taxi industry from competition.”

The issue of ride-hailing business licences, and whether Surrey will participate in the regional inter-municipal business licence, is expected to be discussed at the Feb. 10 council meeting.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 
consumerchoicecenter.org

Scroll to top