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July 12, 2007

Sherrod Brown and Tom Allen Demand Pro-Public Health Trade Policy

Well, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine) have done it again. While the Deathstar Deal is needlessly splitting party unity on trade, they are showing the positive fair trade alternative. Check out this Dear Colleague that they are circulating, and go to the Essential Action page to learn more about the issues at stake.

July 9, 2007

*Support our Nation's commitment to the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health*

Dear Colleague:

We write today to invite you to co-sponsor a resolution that reaffirms the commitment of the United States to the 2001 Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health (S. Res 241) and (H. Res 525).

The 2001 Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, to which the United States and all WTO members are signatories, "affirm[s] that the [TRIPS] Agreement can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO members' right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all." This international agreement properly emphasizes the importance of public health considerations in implementation of patent rules.

However, the Bush administration included Thailand on its 2007 Special 301 Report for intellectual property violators, citing "a weakening of respect for patents."

This is a reference to Thailand's lawful decision to issue compulsory licenses on three essential medicines: the HIV/AIDS medicines efavirenz and lopinavir/ritonavir, and the heart disease medicine clopidogrel. The compulsory licenses will significantly reduce the price of medicines in Thailand, and enable the Thai government to treat more people.

We note that the Special 301 Report does not allege that Thailand's compulsory licenses violated any international or national rules, and that it implicitly recognizes that Thailand's actions are compatible with the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (WTO's TRIPS) rules. Thailand negotiated with the drug manufacturers before proceeding with the compulsory licensing process and clearly respected relevant obligations under TRIPS.

Expressing United States support for this declaration will reaffirm our commitment to public health and improve relations with our trading partners...

Sincerely,

Sherrod Brown, United States Senator
Tom Allen, Member of Congress

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