[Ip-health] Senator Bernie Sanders Asks USTR to Endorse Waiver of WTO Patent Rules for Least Developed Countries

Claire Cassedy claire.cassedy at keionline.org
Mon Sep 28 11:47:42 PDT 2015


Senator Bernie Sanders Asks USTR to Endorse Waiver of WTO Patent Rules for
Least Developed Countries

Submitted by Zack Struver on 28. September 2015 - 14:36

Knowledge Ecology International Press Release
28 September 2015
CONTACT: Zack Struver
+1 (202) 332-2670
zack.struver at keionline.org

Senator Bernie Sanders asks USTR to endorse “indefinite waiver” of WTO
requirements to grant drug patents for Least Developed Countries (LDCs)

Washington, DC — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sent a letter today [1], Sept.
28, 2015, to Ambassador Michael Froman, urging the Office of the United
States Trade Representative (USTR) to endorse an “indefinite waiver” of WTO
requirements to grant drug patents for Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

The letter deals with a negotiation at the World Trade Organization (WTO)
over a request by Least Developed Countries for an indefinite exception for
LDCs on obligations to grant and enforce patents on pharmaceutical
products, until graduation from LDC status.

LDCs are the 48 poorest countries in the world, representing 13 perecent of
the world’s population. In 2014, the per capita income in LDC countries was
just $928, 2.4 percent of the OECD average. In 2013, LDCs spent $47 per
capita on health, compared to $4,657 in OECD countries. In LDCs, only one
in three persons lives with access to electricity. (See: KEI Briefing Note.
2015:3. Comparison of key indicators between LDC, Non­-LDC and OECD

In the WTO, indefinite waiver of the obligation to grant patents in the
poorest countries has widespread support, including by the European Union (
http://keionline.org/node/2319). But the Obama Administration is blocking
the indefinite waiver, and seeking to attach restrictive conditions. On
September 11, several health groups wrote to USTR and USPTO (
http://keionline.org/node/2322), objecting to the US position on the LDC
extension. On September 21, Knowledge Ecology International asked the White
House and the Department of Commerce (http://keionline.org/node/2326) to
investigate if the USPTO and USTR actions violated President Clinton's
executive order protecting Sub-Saharan African countries access to generic

In the letter to the United States Trade Representative, Senator Bernie
Sanders wrote:

---Begin Quote---
“All over the world, people are finding that the prices of prescription
drugs they need are rising and for many people, simply unaffordable. As a
result, sick people get sicker. Some die. This situation is especially dire
in the poorest countries in the world, countries classified by the United
Nations (UN) as Least-Developed Countries (LDCs). The inability of people
in these countries to afford the medicine they need is made worse because
of a lack of a stable economy or public health infrastructure.

I am writing to request the administration endorse an indefinite waiver of
the World Trade Organization's (WTO) obligation to grant and enforce
pharmaceutical patents for countries classified by the UN as LDCs. This
request is urgent, as the decision will be made in mid-October at the WTO
in Geneva.”
---End Quote---

James Love, Director of Knowledge Ecology International said,

---Begin Quote---
“Senator Sanders does not want the United States to stain its reputation by
blocking the poorest people on earth from having access to affordable
generic medicines. Other Presidential candidates should make statements
about this issue. Ambassador Michael Froman, a former hedge fund manager
for Citibank, and President Obama, who campaigned as a community organizer
for the poor and champion of social justice, should search their souls as
they consider the ramifications of this decision for millions of people,
and join the global consensus to allow these 48 countries to do what they
think is best for their citizens.”
---Begin Quote---


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