http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-love/access-to-medicine-in-dev_b_89151.html * March 29, 1998, Donald McNeil, for the New York Times, "South Africa=E2=80=99s Bitter Pill for World's Drug Makers." A long (more than 2,= 900 * April 11, 1999, Lisa Richwine for Reuters, "Groups say U.S. Hurts World Access to AIDS Drugs." The first U.S. wire service article on the trade dispute, Lisa addressed a wide range of technical issues and topics, including even Donna Shalala's refusal to allow Thailand to use the NIH owned patent on ddI. * April 28, 1999, Merrill Goozner in the Chicago Tribune, "Third World Battles for AIDS Drugs." This long article ran on page one above the fold, with a photo, and was the winner of a Washington Monthly journalism award. The Goozner article was reportedly read by President Clinton on Airforce One, causing him to use the White House staff to immediately track down Sandy Thurman (who was taking a bath in a Hotel) to talk about the issue. Interesting fact: It was in this article that Goozners mentioned the TRIPS provision on national emergencies, leading to thousands of subsequent news stories which implied incorrectly that compulsory licensing could only be done in cases of national emergencies.
Access to medicine in developing countries -- hoping for 'change'
Posted February 29, 2008 09:53 AM (EST)
For his first seven years, Bill Clinton pursued an aggressive policy of imposing tough intellectual property rules for developing countries, most importantly in the area of new medicines, which were seen as an important U.S. export. In 1994, I began a long effort to address the flaws in this policy, working first with (Huffpo blogger) Rob Weissman, Ralph Nader, and soon a few global public health groups, like Health Action International and MSF, and local public health groups in Thailand and South Africa. In 1998, through 1999, a global campaign advocating the use of compulsory licenses on medicines was launched. By June of 1999, a small but very motivated and informed group of U.S. AIDS activists began a campaign to disrupt the Gore campaign for President, to protest Gore's direct involvement in bullying South Africa over proposed changes in its patent laws.
With very few exceptions,* the U.S. new media had largely ignored this issue, until it became an unexpected but real problem for Al Gore. For the first time, the U.S. public had some information about why the U.S. is resented around the world, on this topic. The United States Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of State, directed by President Clinton and Vice President Gore, were forcing developing countries to impose tough and costly monopolies on medicines, and directly reducing access to medicines needed to prevent death and suffering. As an aside, it was through this issue that I met Arianna Huffington. Although she was then known mostly as a right wing allay of Newt Gingrich, she began writing about the dispute over drug patents in Africa, and more generally about the nature of corporate power, and her columns on this topic helped change U.S. trade policy.
Both Gore and Clinton responded to the pressure from AIDS activists (people like Paul Davis, Asia Russell, Mark Milano, Eric Sawyer, Bob Lederer and many other brave and selfless persons whose names I am ungratefully neglecting) and groups like ours, and by 1999, U.S. trade policy was significantly modified, most dramatically in a well received speech delivered by Bill Clinton on December 1, 1999, on world AIDS day, at a chaotic WTO meeting in Seattle. Gore flipped too, and made peace with the AIDS activists, who then supported his run against George W. Bush.
The changes in Trade policy announced by Bill Clinton in December 1, 1999 began a moderation of a very bad trade policy, but only partly. For example, in January 2001, in his last ten days in office, Bill Clinton authorized a WTO case against Brazil, in order to stop Brazil from issuing compulsory licenses on patents for the AIDS drug efavirenz, an action dubbed "the Merck case" by USTR.
George W. Bush's election was initially not a disaster on the access to medicines issue. Bob Zoellick, then the head of USTR, initially retained the Clinton changes in trade policy, and to make a very long story short, in November 2001, agreed to the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, which called for implementing patent laws in manner to promote "access to medicine for all." Unfortunately, drug company CEOs then began meeting directly with Karl Rove, and a much reigned in USTR began a long pro-big-pharma drift that now features regular bullying of developing countries on the drug patent issue.
Looking back, on his worst days, George W. Bush has had a better trade policy on medicine patents than Bill Clinton did on his worst days. But looking forward, it is quite important that the next president make some big 'changes', and allow countries like India, Brazil, Thailand and others to issue compulsory licenses on drug patents.
[ARE THESE THIS THE TYPE OF 'CHANGE' PROMOTED BY THE 'GREAT OBAMA' - GIVING AWAY FUTURE AMERICAN INGENUITY??]
More important, we need to create a new global trade policy based upon public health needs, looking to treaties on research and development, rather than the ever tougher intellectual property rules. Resolutions that would support these changes included Senate Resolution 241, and House Resolution 525.
[SENATE RES. 241 - SPONSORED BY DEMOCRATIC SENATOR SHERROD BROWN (OH): A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the United States should reaffirm the commitments of the United States to the 2001 Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health and to pursuing trade policies that promote access to affordable medicines. See: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=sr110-241]
[HOUSE RES. 525 - SPONSORED BY DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN THOMAS ALLEN (ME): Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should reaffirm the commitments of the United States to the 2001 Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health and to pursuing trade policies that promote access to affordable medicines. See: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=hr110-525 .]
[***THIS IS ACTUALLY A POLICY OF GIVING AWAY AMERICA'S FUTURE TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION & ECONOMIC GROWTH TO THIRD COUNTRIES WHICH WILL HOBBLE U.S. LIFE SCIENCES COMPANIES AND RESULT IN ADDITIONAL LOSS OF AMERICAN JOBS AND LOWER STANDARDS OF LIVING***]
We now have three leading candidates for President, and none of them have agreed to co-sponsor Senate Resolution 241. But we have "hope" for good things.
[THIS IS MOST LIKELY BECAUSE THEY DON'T WISH TO BE CRITICIZED, ONE WAY OR THE OTHER, DUE TO ACTIVIST CAMPAIGNS LAUNCHED BY BOTH THE 'EXTREME' DEMOCRATS & THE 'EXTREME' REPUBLICANS].
Hillary has clearly been influenced by a combination of her own sensitivities to the health issue, and the increasingly deep commitment of Bill Clinton, as an ex-president, to address concerns about access to medicine in developing countries. Like many liberal Congressional Democrats, Bill Clinton has often embraced a policy of AIDS exceptionalism on these issues, which focuses on the needs to AIDS patients, but does not necessarily extend this concern to other health problems, such as the need for developing countries to have access to new treatments for cancer or heart diseases.
But many activists believe that Hillary will be very good on this issue if she becomes president. My own 16 year old son actually talked directly to Hillary about this topic, during a February 7 visit she made at an Arlington High School. Senator Clinton took a moment to personally express her support for poor patients having access to new medicines, and she endorsed the use of compulsory licensing of patents to make this possible.
[***BY FAVORING THE ISSUANCE OF COMPULSORY LICENSES AS OFFICIAL U.S. POLICY, FOR THE BENEFIT OF NON-U.S. CITIZENS ABROAD, MRS. CLINTON IS NOW ON RECORD FOR PROMOTING THE DEMISE OF U.S. CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS IN INDIVIDUAL DISCOVERIES & INVENTIONS QUALIFYING FOR CIVIL RIGHT PROTECTION UNDER THE U.S. PATENT LAWS, AS AMENDED, SINCE THE FOUNDING OF OUR NATION. IN OTHER WORDS, SHE HAS DECLARED, CONTRARY TO U.S. HISTORY & SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE, THAT PATENTS ARE NOT PROTECTABLE PRIVATE PROPERTY UNDER THE 'TAKINGS' CLAUSE OF THE 5TH AMENDMENT TO THE U.S. CONSTITUTION.***]
AIDS activists have had some luck in getting Obama to offer some encouraging words on this topic, as it relates at least to AIDS, and his very bright Senate staff has given meetings on the topic, and seem sympathetic.
For both Hillary and Obama, I should emphasize that huge efforts have so far have failed to get either candidate to co-sponsor Senate Resolution 241. This is not entirely encouraging. But we have hope.
John McCain has shown a lot of independence from big pharma on domestic issues, like parallel trade in medicines (importing cheaper brand name drugs from Canada or Europe to benefit U.S. consumers). But he has yet to directly address the trade issue in a constructive way, and the best that can be said is that his unhelpful statements reflect a lack of understanding. But, we hope that if he becomes president, he will do the right thing.
This is a very important issue. Thailand is today being pressured by the U.S. Department of State and the USTR to abandon compulsory licenses it had earlier issued on patents on drugs for AIDS, heart disease and cancer. Brazil is being pressured to not issue a compulsory license for the Gilead drug tenofovir. Chile has been pressured over it's efforts to import generic versions of an expensive leukemia drug. The USTR is pressuring dozens of Latin American countries to abandon a pro-public health position in a far ranging negotiation on public health, innovation and intellectual property at the World Health Organization. The U.S. government is trying to stop the World Health Organization from offering useful technical assistance on patent issues to poor countries, and opposes many measures that would promote greater access to safe generic medicines.
These issues don't directly concern U.S. voters, but they are extremely important. We are creating new global norms that will last several decades, and impact billions of persons throughout the world. For people who don't follow this issue very closely, this is what is at stake. People who live in developing countries typically have average incomes of anywhere from 1 to 20 percent of the US. And, within developing countries, unskilled workers are far below the average. With monopolies, drug companies typically choose prices that are only affordable for the richest 1 to 20 percent of the populations. With generic competition prices fall a lot (More than 95 percent for many important drugs), and access is much better.
[NO. WHAT IS AT STAKE IS AMERICA'S FUTURE INNOVATION & COMPETITIVENESS, BECAUSE ACTIVIST GROUPS LIKE THE ONE JAMIE LOVE OPERATES ARE CALLING FOR U.S. LIFE SCIENCES COMPANIES TO GIVE AWAY THEIR NEW DRUG DISCOVERIES & INVENTIONS TO THIRD COUNTRIES AND WILL HAVE INADEQUATE PROFITS TO REINVEST INTO FUTURE DRUG RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT. ALSO, U.S. TAXPAYERS WILL BE DIRECTLY AFFECTED, BECAUSE THESE COMPANIES WILL BE FORCED TO RAISE THE COSTS OF THEIR NEW DRUGS IN THE U.S. TO COMPENSATE FOR THE LOSS OF THEIR PRIVATE PROPERTY ABROAD. IN OTHER WORDS, AMERICANS WILL BE CALLED TO SUBSIDIZE THE ENTIRE WORLD'S HEALTH NEEDS BASED ON GENERAL COMMUNITARIAN PRINCIPLES OF PUBLIC INTEREST. SO MUCH FOR THE QUALITY OF LIFE AMERICANS WILL NEED TO SACRIFICE UNDER SUCH PROPOSALS...]
In the global battle over access to medicines, what side are these candidates on? And what changes will they made if elected?
[APPARENTLY, ACTIVISTS, HILLARY CLINTON & BARACK OBAMA ARE AGAINST THE INTERESTS OF AMERICA'S SMALL AS WELL AS LARGE INVENTORS]
Journalists who wrote about US trade disputes before the 1999 Gore Zaps February 29th, 2008 James Love
In a blog posted today on the Huffington Post, I could have, should have, elaborated a bit on the few U.S. journalists who had written about the trade disputes involving patents on medicines, before AIDS activists began their zaps of Gore's presidential campaign in June of 1999.
I can recall (help me if I am forgetting someone) four journalists who were ahead of the curve. Each had to sell their institutions on the news value of the stories, and have continued excellent reporting on these issues.
words) and informative article about the dispute over parallel trade, written more than one year before others wrote about the dispute.
* May 24, 1999, Sabin Russell, in the San Francisco Chronicle, "New Crusade to Lower AIDS Drug Costs: Africa's needs at odds with firms' profit motive." A front page story by a knowledgeable reporter on AIDS and other health issues.
* March 29, 1998, Donald McNeil, for the New York Times, "South Africa=E2=80=99s Bitter Pill for World's Drug Makers." A long (more than 2,= 900
* April 11, 1999, Lisa Richwine for Reuters, "Groups say U.S. Hurts World Access to AIDS Drugs." The first U.S. wire service article on the trade dispute, Lisa addressed a wide range of technical issues and topics, including even Donna Shalala's refusal to allow Thailand to use the NIH owned patent on ddI.
* April 28, 1999, Merrill Goozner in the Chicago Tribune, "Third World Battles for AIDS Drugs." This long article ran on page one above the fold, with a photo, and was the winner of a Washington Monthly journalism award. The Goozner article was reportedly read by President Clinton on Airforce One, causing him to use the White House staff to immediately track down Sandy Thurman (who was taking a bath in a Hotel) to talk about the issue. Interesting fact: It was in this article that Goozners mentioned the TRIPS provision on national emergencies, leading to thousands of subsequent news stories which implied incorrectly that compulsory licensing could only be done in cases of national emergencies.