Thursday, October 19, 2006
Kennedy and Waxman urge U.S. to promote access to healthcare in its trade practices
In recent letters to Secretary Michael Leavitt (Health and Human Services) and Comptroller General David Walker (Government Accountability Office), Senator Kennedy and Representative Waxman remind the Administration of its obligations under the Trade Act of 2002. Under this act, the U.S. is obligated by law to respect the commitments made under the TRIPS and Public Health, commonly known as the 'Doha Declaration'.
“In this era of HIV epidemics, avian flu outbreaks, and other public health threats, it is essential that we promote good health and access to medicines in every country”.
Waxman chimed in, perhaps more pointedly:
“We have to recognize that the Bush Administration’s single-minded pursuit of intellectual property protections for drug companies can have potentially devastating consequences for the public health in developing countries”.
Kennedy and Waxman also asked the government to retract its demand for the World Health Organization to withdraw its 2005 report, "The Use of Flexibilities in TRIPS by Developing Countries: Can They Promote Access to Medicines?, that identifies barriers that trade agreements impose on public health policies. Waxman said, “We need more analysis of the implications of our policies, not less”. One point the WHO report made was:
“…the U.S. policy, by focusing exclusively on the interests of its export industries, may lead to very restrictive interpretations of the flexibilities contained in international agreements to the detriment of public health needs in developing countries”.
Letter to the Honorable David M. Walker in the Government Accountability Office
Letter to the Honorable Michael O. Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services