Congress Urged To Honor Trade Deals

by Ed Silverman
Published at

More than 100 different organizations – representing consumers, labor, fair trade, health advocacy and religious groups – are banding together to urge Congress to support resolutions calling for the US to reaffirm its commitment to international treaties that promote access to medicines and innovations in new medical technologies in developing countries.

Specifically, the groups (you can see a list below) are referring to the Doha declaration of TRIPS, the trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights. (For a quick primer, look at this). A House resolution was introduced by Tom Allen, a Democrat from Maine, and Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, introduced a resolution in the Senate.

“In developing countries, the price of medicines is often a life-and-death matter,” says the letter to Congress. “For example, generic competition for the older first-generation AIDS drugs has reduced their price in developing countries by more than 98 percent, which was critical to the massive scale-up in AIDS treatment seen over the past five years. However, most newer, second-generation treatments are under patent and current treatment levels…will not be sustainable unless much cheaper generic versions become available.”
“The United States should support efforts to promote access to medicines in developing countries rather than extending Big Pharma’s monopoly protections,” says Rob Weissman, director of Essential Action. “Unfortunately, the US government has too frequently prioritized big pharma’s narrow commercial concerns over public health interests, most notably in the case of Thailand.” In the past year, Thailand has authorized the use of generic versions of three important AIDS med and heart disease, and plans to do the same with three cancer drugs, but has faced significant pressure from the US Trade Rep and the EU.

“Access to medicines and the innovation of new drugs should be complementary, not mutually exclusive, objectives. The United States should embrace efforts to move beyond the access-innovation trade-off by exploring new models of healthcare R&D that support innovation by means other than monopoly pricing of drugs,” says Weissman.

The resolutions call on the White House to honor commitments made in the 2001 World Trade Organization (WTO) Dohe Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement, and not pressure countries that exercise the flexibilities guaranteed in the Doha Declaration (including the right to issue compulsory licenses). The resolutions also urge the US to avoid seeking intellectual property provisions in bilateral and regional trade agreements that are more stringent than measures contained in the TRIPS agreement.

The resolutions also urge the US to support new global norms for promoting medical R&D that would address a needs-driven health agenda; the intent is to develop approaches to support R&D that don’t rely on charging sick people exorbitant prices for meds.

Here’s the list of organizations:

Action Aid International USA

ACT UP East Bay, Oakland, CA

ACT UP New York, New York, NY

ACT UP Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

Africa Action, Washington, DC

African Services Committee, New York, NY

AIDS Action Council, Washington, DC

AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Chicago, IL

AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Los Angeles, CA

AIDS Project Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, New York, NY

AkPIRG (Alaska Public Interest Research Group)

Alliance for Democracy, Waltham, MA

Alliance for Responsible Trade, US

American Jewish World Service, USA

American Medical Student Association, Reston, VA

AREA (American Run to End AIDS), New York, NY

Association Mujer y Comunidad, San Francisco Libre, San Francisco, CA

CALPIRG (California Public Interest Research Group)

Campaign for Labor Rights, Washington, DC

Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health (CPATH), San Francisco, CA

Church World Service, USA

Citizens Trade Campaign (CTC), USA

Columban Missionaries Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office, USA

Community Alliance for Global Justice – Washington State

Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP), New York, NY

Consumer Federation of America

Consumers Union, USA

CoPIRG (Colorado Public Interest Research Group)

Dominican Sisters of Hope, USA

End AIDS Now!, New York, NY

Essential Action, Washington, DC

Florida PIRG (Public Interest Research Group)

Gay Men’s Health Crisis, New York, NY

Georgia PIRG (Public Interest Research Group)

Global Aids Alliance, Washington, DC

Health GAP (Global Access Project), USA

HIVictorious, Inc., Madison, WI

Housing Works, Brooklyn, NY

Illinois PIRG (Public Interest Research Group)

INPIRG (Indiana Public Interest Research Group)

International Women’s Health Coalition, New York, NY

InterReligious Task Force on Central America, Cleveland, OH

Intersect Worldwide, New York, NY

Iowa PIRG (Public Interest Research Group)

Jubilee Northwest Coalition, Seattle, WA

Knowledge Ecology International, Washington, DC

Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State/ Economic Justice for All,
Latham, NY

Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Silver Spring, MD

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Washington, DC

Maryland PIRG (Public Interest Research Group)

MASSPIRG (Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group)

Medical Mission Sisters (USA), Philadelphia, PA

Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office

Mennonite Mutual Aid, Goshen, IN

Mercy Investment Program, USA

Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Justice, Peace/Integrity of
Creation Office, USA

Mosaic Initiative, Chicago, IL

MoPIRG (Missouri Public Interest Research Group)

National Association of People with AIDS, Silver Spring, MD

National Physicians Alliance, Reston, VA

NCPIRG (North Carolina Public Interest Research Group)

NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, USA

NHPIRG (New Hampshire Public Interest Research Group)

Nicaragua Network, Washington, DC

NJPIRG (New Jersey Public Interest Research Group)

NLARx Legislative Working Group on Trade and Prescription Drugs,
Hallowell, ME

NMPIRG (New Mexico Public Interest Research Group)

Nonviolence International, Washington, DC

Ohio PIRG (Public Interest Research Group)

OSPIRG (Oregon State Public Interest Research Group)

Oxfam America

Partners in Health, Boston, MA

Patients not Patents, Washington, DC

PennPIRG (Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group)

Physicians for Human Rights, Cambridge, MA

PIRGIM (Public Interest Research Group in Michigan)

Program for Wellness Restoration, Houston, Texas

Project Inform, San Francisco, CA

Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, Washington, DC

Public Knowledge, Washington, DC

Quixote Center, Hyattsville, MD


RIPIRG (Rhode Island Public Interest Research Group)

Saint Michael’s College Student Global AIDS Campaign, Colchester, VT

Salud y Farmacos-USA, Austin, TX

Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, Convent Station, NJ

Sisters of Mercy Regional Community of Detroit, Detroit, MI

Sisters of the Holy Cross, Notre Dame, IN

Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, Administrative Team, Milwaukee, WI

Sojourners/Call to Renewal, Washington, DC

Student Global AIDS Campaign, USA

Student Trade Justice Campaign, USA

TexPIRG (Texas Public Interest Research Group)

TransAfrica Forum, Washington, DC

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, USA

Unitarian Universalist Global Aids Coalition, Portland, OR

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries, USA

United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society, USA

United Steelworkers (USW), USA

Universities Allied for Essential Medicine, USA

Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk-U.S. Province, USA

U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group)

Vermont Global Health Coalition

Washington Office on Africa (WOA), Washington, DC

WashPIRG (Washington State Public Interest Research Group)

WISPIRG (Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group)

Women’s Equity in Access to Care and Treatment WE-ACTx, Chicago, Il

Tags: Affordable Medicines, Compulsory Licensing, Doha, Patents, Thailand, TRIPS