[Ip-health] Reuters: U.N. urged to probe U.S. trade stance on generic drugs

Michael Palmedo mpalmedo at wcl.american.edu
Tue Jul 20 05:03:16 PDT 2010



U.N. urged to probe U.S. trade stance on generic drugs


By Doug Palmer

Jul 20, 2010 


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - AIDS groups on Tuesday accused the United States
of violating the health rights of millions of poor people around the
world through trade policies that make it harder for them to get
life-saving drugs.


A coalition that includes Health Gap, the Foundation for AIDS Rights and
the Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS formally asked Anand
Grover, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, to look into
the matter.


The special rapporteur can respond to alleged violations by asking the
concerned government to clarify its policies, reminding it of health
right obligations and requesting information on any corrective action
the government is taking.


The groups were to hold a press conference at the International AIDS
Conference in Vienna on Tuesday.


Their ire is directed at an annual report produced by the U.S. Trade
Representative's office that ranks countries with the worst records on
protecting U.S. intellectual property rights for goods ranging from CDs
to medicines.


They accused the United States of using the "Special 301" report to
pressure countries to give up certain public health rights they have
under a World Trade Organization agreement on intellectual property
rights known as TRIPS.


"Up to and including the 2009 Special 301 report, Brazil, India,
Thailand and other countries were threatened with sanctions under
Special 301 for taking advantage of TRIPS flexibilities, including
utilizing transition periods and issuing compulsory licenses" to allow
domestic firms to produce cheaper versions of drugs patented by U.S.
companies, the groups said in their allegation letter to Grover.


This year's Special 301 report again put Thailand on its "priority watch
list," one step short of its most serious designation. The country has
battled with U.S. drug companies over steps it has taken in its
aggressive anti-AIDS campaign.


USTR also announced a special "out-of-cycle" review of Thailand's
intellectual property rights regime, a step praised by Pharmaceutical
Research and Manufacturers of America, the U.S. drug industry's powerful
lobby group.


But in the same report, USTR reaffirmed its support for countries using
their TRIPS flexibilities as embodied in an international pledge known
as the Doha Declaration, which says they are not bound by global
intellectual property rights from taking steps to deal with public
health crises.


Sean Flynn, associate director of the American University's Program on
Information Justice and Intellectual Property, accused President Barack
Obama of not following through on a campaign promise to support access
to low-cost generic drugs.


Obama's campaign literature pledged "to break the stranglehold that a
few big drug and insurance companies have on these life-saving drugs,"
said Flynn, who is the counsel of record on the groups' letter to the UN
special rapporteur.


(Editing by Eric Walsh)







Mike Palmedo

Assistant Director

Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property

American University Washington College of Law

4801 Massachusetts Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20016

T - 202-2274-4442 | F - 202-274-4495

mpalmedo at wcl.american.edu


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