About Essential Action’s Access to Medicines Project

Essential Action has been an active player in the global access to medicines campaign over the last decade.

We helped conceptualize the proposal that ultimately became the basis for the Clinton administration’s Executive Order (still in effect) that effectively ended U.S. pressure on countries for exercising their WTO (World Trade Organization) TRIPS Agreement flexibilities. (The Clinton and Bush administrations have both interpreted this position nonetheless to permit them to negotiate TRIPS-plus provisions in trade agreements.)

We have provided technical assistance on intellectual property and access to medicines issues to countless NGOs and numerous governments, including South Africa, China, Ecuador, Indonesia, Venezuela and Uganda. Essential Action’s director Robert Weissman has consulted widely for the World Health Organization on IP and access to medicines issues, and has edited or authored a half dozen WHO reports. He was also consultant to an ASEAN project on access to medicines and lead author on a report that examined national laws in each of the ASEAN countries.

Essential Action has been very active in publishing material and undertaking advocacy related to bilateral and regional trade agreements and their impact on access to medicines, and have addressed countless meetings of government officials, NGOs and public health advocates on these issues. Our material is widely recognized as being penetrating and understandable to people who are expert neither in trade nor IP policy.

Our project work focuses on pharmaceutical industry transparency issues; the adoption of effective U.S. biogenerics legislation; facilitating developing country use of TRIPS flexibilities; addressing the challenges posed by TRIPS-plus trade agreements; addressing the TRIPS compulsory licensing for export problem; as well as particular disputes on IP and access to medicines issues that arise. You can learn more about our work in each of these areas by clicking on the subject area navigation to the left.

We are non-partisan and do not accept funding from either industry or government sources.

We work closely with a broad range of allies, collaborating especially closely with Knowlede Ecology International/ Consumer Project on Technology, and Health GAP (Global Access Project).

Our advisory board draws on experts from around the world, in both the global North and South. Click on the continuation of this article to see our board of advisors.

Essential Action, Access to Medicines Project
Board of Advisors


Amy Allina, Program and Policy Director, National Women’s Health Network, Washington, D.C.

Pascale Boulet, legal advisor, Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, Paris, France

Carlos Correa, Professor of Law, University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

James Love, Executive Director, Knowlede Ecology International/ Consumer Project on Technology, Washington, D.C.

Peter Lurie, M.D., Deputy Director, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, Washington, D.C.

Sisule Musungu, independent IP expert and President of Board of Directors, IQsensato, Geneva, Switzerland

Heeseob Nam, Executive Director, IPLeft, Seoul, Korea

Cindy Pearson, Executive Director, National Women’s Health Network, Washington, D.C.

Joshua Sarnoff, Assistant Director, Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic, American University, Washington, D.C.

Sanya Reid Smith, legal advisor, Third World Network, Geneva, Switzerland/Penang, Malaysia