Health Advocates Press United States On WTO LDC IP Waiver 18/09/2015 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Several leading public health groups have sent a letter to United States Trade Representative and US Patent and Trademark Office director asking for more transparency on the US position on a request by least-developed countries to indefinitely extend their World Trade Organization intellectual property waiver on pharmaceutical products. In an 11 September letter [pdf] to USTR Michael Froman and USPTO Director Michelle Lee, the nongovernmental organisations asked the US to publicly disclose its position on the LDC request to the WTO. The advocacy groups are concerned that the United States is preparing to take an opposing stance on the LDC request. A decision is expected to be taken at the next WTO Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) – taking place from 15-16 October – on the LDCs’ request to extend a current waiver allowing them to avoid enforcing IP rights on pharmaceutical products (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 11 June 2015). This would only apply to the countries as long as they are classified as LDCs. The NGOs requested an “immediate full disclosure of US positions on the requested extension and an opportunity to engage with your office on policy positions that we think would be highly undesirable.” Past USTR positions during negotiations on compulsory licences and earlier LDC extensions suggest that the US “might pursue policy positions that restrict the rights of LDCs under the TRIPS Agreement and hinder access to affordable medicines for their populations,” the letter said. The signatory groups include Health GAP, Knowledge Ecology International, Public Citizen, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders), and Oxfam. The US should not seek to prevent an indefinite extension, the groups said, as “short extensions do not allow LDCs and donors of global health programs … to secure durable sources of lower cost generic medicines nor a sufficient time period to develop sustainable local pharmaceutical capacity.” The US should not “seek to tie the granting of an extension for pharmaceuticals to a declaration, express or implied, that intellectual property protections are necessarily beneficial for development of LDCs,” they said. Nor should they “place any other conditions or restrictions on LDCs including any that may restrict LDCs’ pharmaceutical capacity and right to export medicine to other countries.” Furthermore, the US should not attempt to “impose conditions that require LDCs to maintain existing degrees of IP protection,” the letter said, adding that the US “should join the emerging global consensus, supported even by the European Commission.” The Commission announced its support for the extension last week (IPW, EU Policy, 10 September 2015). According to one of the co-authors, the USTR and USPTO had not responded as of 16 September. In the context of the extension request, KEI published a briefing note [pdf] presenting a comparison of key indicators between LDC, non-LDC, and members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The note includes data showing the vast difference in the standard of living of people who live in LDCs, making the case for allowing them access to needed medicines. Image Credits: Flickr – Laura Gilmore Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Health Advocates Press United States On WTO LDC IP Waiver" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.