[Ip-health] NYT follow-up editorial focuses on meds

Peter Maybarduk pmaybarduk at citizen.org
Mon Jul 9 12:42:22 PDT 2018

Follow-up to today's news report of U.S. bullying at WHO on breast feeding, this report on drug prices: 


".In March, United States trade representatives threatened to withdraw American support for the Colombian peace accord and Colombian ascension into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, unless Colombian health officials dropped several efforts to cut prescription drug prices. The measures Colombia is considering have all been sanctioned by the World Trade Organization, but pharmaceutical companies have pressured countries not to employ them, often by acting through American trade representatives.

"Federal officials have proposed changes to global trade policy that would prohibit such measures, and that would also thwart other efforts to expand access to newly developed and urgently needed tuberculosis medications. Tuberculosis is still at epidemic levels in many low- and middle-income countries, claiming a total of 1.7 million lives in 2016 alone, according to the World Health Organization.

"It's tempting to call this approach to public health Trumpian, simply because it has all the key hallmarks: an obvious bow to rich and powerful companies, disregard for the needs of people who are poor or sick or both and zero attention to potential long-term consequences. But, while they might not have gone so far when it comes to baby formula, previous administrations are just as guilty as the current one when it comes to drugs.

"Both the Obama and Clinton administrations also sought to keep drug prices high in low-income countries - the former, by preventing generic markets in India and elsewhere, and the latter by supporting policies that kept the prices of H.I.V. medications much higher than they needed to be.

"In the case of H.I.V., persistent global protest ultimately turned public opinion and, as it happens, the course of medical history. The United States carved exceptions out for H.I.V. medications and allowed a generic market to emerge, which in turn dramatically curbed the epidemic itself.

"Should American officials prevail in the current case, the outcome will be easy enough to guess: People will suffer. Industry profits will not."

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