[Ip-health] 13 NGOs Call on USTR To Support Colombia in Special 301 Following Pressure Over Legal Access to Meds Efforts

Andrew Goldman andrew.goldman at keionline.org
Thu Mar 15 08:11:47 PDT 2018


KEI submitted a post-hearing submission to the USTR for the Special 301 on
behalf of itself and twelve other international NGOs and academic
institutions condemning recent pressures on Colombia’s legal and regulatory
measures to increase access to affordable medicines, including pressure
directly from the USTR as well as Special 301 submissions by PhRMA, BIO,
NAM, and the Chamber of Commerce focusing particular attention on Colombia.

This submission is the first of two letters to be sent to USTR on this
issue. The second letter, to be sent next week, will focus more on the
specific threat by USTR to block Colombia’s accession to the OECD unless
the country yields to the interests of the pharmaceutical and biotech lobby.

In addition to the well-chronicled price reduction of Glivec (imatinib) by
Colombia’s Ministry of Health in 2016, the Ministry has recently been
exploring the question of whether there are sufficient reasons meriting a
declaration that a compulsory license on HCV medicines would be in the
public interest. Both the Glivec case and the HCV request initiated with
Colombian civil society, including Misión Salud, iFARMA, and REDLAM.

The attached letter from the 13 NGOs asks the United States trade officials
to refrain from pressuring other countries with regard to compulsory
licensing. Among other things, the letter enumerates the several statutory
and judicial forms of compulsory licensing that are possible and used in
the United States, and the notes the heated discussion within the United
States over high drug prices.

The letter’s signees included:

Health GAP
Knowledge Ecology International
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières USA
Oxfam America
Public Citizen
Alianza LAC-Global por el Acceso a Medicamentos
Center of Medicines Information of the National University of Colombia
The Colombia Bishop Conference
Colombian Medical Federation
Committee of Oversight and Cooperation in Health
La Fundación IFARMA
Medicines Observatory of Colombia (OBSERVAMED)
Misión Salud

James Love, Director of KEI: “The United States uses compulsory licensing
more than any other country, including but certainly not limited to medical
technologies. If the United States wants to curb high drug prices while
protecting access to medicines, it needs to have the ability to limit the
exclusive rights in patents. If the United States does not embrace more
robust compulsory licensing efforts, patients in the United States will
face financial stress and limited access to new medicines. The same is true
for Colombia and nearly every other country. PhRMA and its member companies
want USTR to create global norms that will undermine costs controls and
access everywhere, and that’s not what needs to be done.”

Brook Baker, Health GAP Senior Policy Analyst: “The bio/pharmaceutical
industry’s persistent efforts to undermine and sanction Colombia’s lawful
use of TRIPS compliant measures to issue compulsory licenses or to reduce
monopoly-based pricing is immoral, unjust, and a violation of the
industry’s own human rights obligations. The complicity of the US over the
past two years in supporting Big Pharma’s efforts and making its own
threats of retaliation against Colombia is equally egregious. The Special
301 process should no longer be used to parrot industry’s false claims and
to prop up its destructive business model that extorts patients and payers
here and abroad.”

Andrew S. Goldman
Counsel, Policy and Legal Affairs
Knowledge Ecology International
andrew.goldman at keionline.org // www.twitter.com/ASG_KEI
tel.: +1.202.332.2670 <(202)%20332-2670>

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