[Ip-health] UACT comments to the USTR Special 301 Review

Kim Treanor kim.treanor at keionline.org
Thu Feb 8 09:33:16 PST 2018


UACT comments to the USTR Special 301 Review

UACT has submitted comments to the United States Trade Representative
regarding the 2018 Special 301 Review. UACT’s comments can be found copied
in full below:

1621 Connecticut Avenue NW
Suite 500
Washington, DC 20009
Tel.: 202.332.2670

February 6, 2018

Sung Chang
Director for Innovation and Intellectual Property
United States Trade Representative
Docket No. USTR-2017-0024
Via submissions made through the Federal eRulemaking Portal:

Dear Sung Chang,

Re: UACT Comments Regarding the 2018 Special 301 Review

The Union for Affordable Cancer Treatment (UACT), created in 2014, is a
union of people affected by cancer, their family members and friends,
people who take care of people with cancer, health care professionals and
cancer researchers committed to increasing access to effective cancer
treatment and care. We are particularly concerned about the rapidly
escalating cost of cancer medication in the US and globally. We request the
opportunity to testify at the Special 301 hearing on February 27th, and
respectfully submit the following comments.

As noted in the summary of the Federal Register Notice, “Each year, the
Office of the United States Trade Representative conducts a Special 301
review to identify countries that deny adequate and effective protection of
intellectual property rights (IPR) or deny fair and equitable market access
to U.S. persons who rely on intellectual property protection.”

Based on this review, the USTR identifies so-called “Priority Foreign
Countries” whose acts, policies, or practices may be contrary to the
interest of a few often multinational companies, even if done in accordance
with well-established trade rules as defined in the TRIPS.  For most of
these “target” countries, trade sanctions or even the threat of trade
sanctions by the United States can result in terrible outcomes for many
citizens, especially cancer patients who need improved access to better
medicines everywhere.

Many countries, from Norway or the Netherlands to Chile or India, may be
identified by the USTR review but in fact have national health policies
that allows their officials to challenge patents on medicines and the
prices of medicines if doing so is in their citizens interests and in
accordance with local laws.  By putting pressure on these countries with
all the power it has as a huge market, the US, USTR and its staff asked
countries to let many patients die prematurely.  Medicine should not be
treated as bargaining chips to be traded as other commodities. It is time
the USTR recognize fully and respect the words as well as the spirit of the
Doha Declaration.

UACT reminds USTR that the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and
Public Health was adopted by the WTO Ministerial Conference of 2001, and
reaffirmed the flexibility of TRIPS member states in circumventing patent
rights for better access to medicines. In Paragraph 4 of the Doha
Declaration, governments — including the US government — agreed that:

“4. The TRIPS Agreement does not and should not prevent Members from taking
measures to protect public health. Accordingly, while reiterating our
commitment to the TRIPS Agreement, we affirm that the Agreement can and
should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO
Members’ right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote
access to medicines for all.

Using political tools that only appear to respect the legal safeguards put
in place by the WTO but in fact undermine access to medicines is
unacceptable to US citizens, and to patients all over the world.  Trade
pressures should not be used to undermine access to medicine as a human
right, but should be used to strengthen access to medicines as a human

The USTR has a role to play in protecting U.S. interests, but has options
other than to advocate for higher drug prices around the world.  As
Secretary of HHS Alex Azar noted during his confirmation hearing, the
United States benefited when the European Union expanded public sector
funding for biomedical research through the Horizon 2020 Framework
programme for Research and Innovation.  And, various members of the World
Health Organization and the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on
Access to Medicine have proposed negotiations to expand global public
sector funding of research of development, and to explore new ways of
delinking R&D costs from the prices of medical technologies, and enhancing
the transparency of pharmaceutical markets, including everything from R&D
costs, prices and revenues, and government subsidies for R&D to outcomes of
clinical trials, marketing costs, patent and registration landscapes and
the knowhow to make products, including biologic drugs and the new CAR T
and other gene and cell based technologies.

Given the repeated promises by President Trump to give people relief from
high drug prices, it is time for USTR to rethink its objectives in trade

Respectfully submitted,
Manon Anne Ress. PhD. Acting Director and Co-founder, Union for Affordable
Cancer Treatment

Kim Treanor
Knowledge Ecology International
kim.treanor at keionline.org
tel.: +1.202.332.2670 <(202)%20332-2670>

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