[Ip-health] KEI Urges Investigation of Abusive Trade Pressures Against HIV/AIDS Policy in Least Developed Countries

Zack Struver zack.struver at keionline.org
Tue Sep 22 06:46:49 PDT 2015

Source URL: http://keionline.org/node/2326

SEPTEMBER 21, 2015
CONTACT: Zack Struver
+1 (202) 332-2670
zack.struver at keionline.org

KEI Urges Investigation of Abusive Trade Pressures Against HIV/AIDS Policy
in Least Developed Countries

Knowledge Ecology International sent letters today (attached to this
release), September 21, 2015, to the Office of the General Counsel to the
United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the Office of the Inspector
General for the Department of Commerce, asking that they investigate USTR
and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) use of trade
pressures to stop a request by Least Developed Countries (LDCs) at the
World Trade Organization (WTO) for an exception to international
intellectual property obligations related to pharmaceutical patents.

On February 23, 2015, the LDC group submitted [2] a “duly motivated”
request to the WTO asking that they indefinitely extend a waiver that
exempts LDCs from granting patents on pharmaceutical products. The LDC
request would create an exception to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects
of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for LDCs for as long as they remain
classified as such by the United Nations, and allow them to continue to
manufacture and import inexpensive generic drugs. The TRIPS requires that
the WTO grant any “duly motivated” request by LDCs for such a waiver.

The European Commission of the European Union recently supported [3] this
exemption for LDCs, which comprise the poorest countries in the world. LDCs
[4] represent thirteen percent of the world's population, but only one
percent of the world's income.

KEI has heard reports that United States trade negotiators with USTR are
pressuring LDCs to drop their request, in secret bilateral talks leading up
to the October 15, 2015, meeting of the TRIPS Council in Geneva, which will
make a recommendation on the LDC request to the Tenth WTO Ministerial
Meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, this December.

The letter to the General Counsel at USTR and the Inspector General of the
Department of Commerce asks that they investigate those trade pressures as
potential violations of Executive Order 13155, issued on May 10, 2000, by
President Bill Clinton, which prohibits the United States from seeking
“through negotiation or otherwise, the revocation of any intellectual
property law or policy” that is compliant with TRIPS “of a beneficiary
sub-Saharan African country, as determined by the President, that regulates
HIV/AIDS pharmaceuticals or medical technologies.”

As the letter notes, the LDC request “included specific reference to the
high burden of HIV in LDC’s, citing statistics that in 2011 9.7 million of
the of 34 million HIV patients worldwide lived in LDC’s, and that exemption
from the WTO obligations with regard to patents on pharmaceuticals is
necessary for the access of affordable medicines.” 34 LDCs are located in
sub-Saharan Africa, and many of them are covered by the Executive Order.

Andrew S. Goldman, Counsel for Policy & Legal Affairs at Knowledge Ecology
International, said, “President Clinton enacted his executive order in
order to prevent the kind of pressure that U.S. agencies are allegedly
placing on LDCs to abandon or narrow a request grounded in the need to
access affordable medicines. It is unfathomable that President Obama wants
to conclude his Presidency by siding with drug companies against a group of
countries the UN considers to be ‘Least Developed,’ and where two of three
persons don’t even have electricity, and where health care spending was
just $47 per person in 2014.”


Department-of-Commerce-Request-for-EO13155-and-LDC-Investigation.pdf [6]
USTR-Request-for-EO13155-and-LDC-Investigation.pdf [7]

[1] http://keionline.org/user/57726
[2] http://keionline.org/node/2179
[3] http://keionline.org/node/2319

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