Foreign Policy in Focus

"Free Trade" and Medicines
in the Americas
by Robert Weissman, Essential Action

Key Points
· Generic competition is crucial to reducing the price of medicines in developing countries
· The US is pushing a negotiating agenda for the FTAA that would dramatically limit each country's ability to undertake compulsory licensing, an important tool to promote generic competition
· The US negotiating position would make it difficult for other countries to emulate Brazil's success in providing treatment to all persons with HIV/AIDS

Key Problems
· If the US-Jordan Free Trade Agreement serves as a model, the FTAA will sharply limit the grounds for issuance of a compulsory license
· The US negotiating objectives for the FTAA inappropriately seek to link marketing approval to patent status
· The US is attempting in the FTAA negotiations to extend patent terms and create new intellectual property protections that will undermine Latin American and Caribbean country efforts to promote access to affordable medicine

Key Recommendations
· The US should drop its efforts to include TRIPS-plus provisions in the FTAA
· Because all FTAA negotiating countries are already members of the WTO and are bound by TRIPS, there is no reason include any intellectual property provisions in the FTAA
· The US should stop working to expand monopolistic intellectual property rights and begin to explore protections for the public's rights regarding intellectual property.

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