Why Is The Obama Administration Putting Billions Of People At Risk With Patent Pressure From The USTR?

from the what-a-shame dept

We've already noted what a complete joke the Special 301 report is. It's the process by which the White House, via the USTR, basically "launders" the complaints of industry lobbyists who want foreign countries to prevent competition by ratcheting up patent and copyright laws to better clear the market for American companies and their products. As people digest the details, it again is apparent what a corrupt society we live in. As Michael Geist notes, the US seems to be saying that 4.3 billion people live in countries without "adequate" copyright and patent laws. Many of those countries are poor, and almost everyone who has studied developing economies has noted that strict patent laws do significant harm both to the health of citizens in those countries and to their opportunities to develop. The US, of course, should know this. In order to help develop our own economy, we were quite good at ignoring the intellectual property of other countries.

But the details are where it gets really disgusting. For all the talk about the vague and undefined language found in ACTA, it really comes through when you look at how the USTR names and shames some countries for trying to implement a patent plan that actually keeps their citizens healthier:
That said, it was a disappointment to read that USTR is pressing so hard on the pharmaceutical test data issue, including even for a Least Developed Country (LDC), and that the USTR cites the Philippines for tying patentability of certain chemical forms unless the applicant demonstrates increased efficacy, and complains that India does not patent "temperature-stable forms of a drug or new means of drug delivery." During the hearings, public health groups made it quite clear that it was important for developing countries to continue to have the flexibility to limit the evergreening of pharmaceutical products via these types of patents.
In other words, lots of countries know that they need less expensive drugs to keep their populations healthy (and to make them economically productive). And yet the USTR is trying to clamp down and enforce stricter patent laws in those countries, which would force them to buy life-saving drugs from big pharma firms at massively inflated prices. That costs lives. Why does the White House want to put so many lives at risk?

It's really economically stupid as well. We want these countries to have healthy populations and growing economies, because they're future markets for other things that the US sells. The US government is so short-sighted on this that it's happy to have a bunch of poor people die if they can't buy some expensive drugs, not realizing how much that harms so many other US industries.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Spaceboy (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 12:15pm

    Because peoples votes don't count anymore. It's the almighty Dollar $ign that is important to politicians now. And they are beholden to those that elect them into office. Unfortunately it's not the public anymore, but corporations.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    SI, May 3rd, 2011 @ 12:28pm

    In the long term ...

    " We want these countries to have healthy populations and growing economies, because they're future markets for other things that the US sells."

    Why worry about selling them consumer products later when you can bully them into buying expensive pharma now.

    Short term profit FTW!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    "Why Is The Obama Administration Putting Billions Of People At Risk With Patent Pressure From The USTR?"

    The simple answer is profits.

    The complex answer is as follows.... Imagine if we allowed developing countries to have different pharmaceutical patent laws. If we did, pharmaceuticals would cost less in developing countries. Much less. Drastically less.

    People in developed countries would take notice. People would ask,
    Why do we pay so damn much for our pharmaceuticals? Heck, this pill only costs three cents in India.

    Those people would start complaining to their elected officials to do "something" about the scandalous high prices of pharmaceuticals.

    Those elected officials do not want such complaints because they do not want to take any action on the pharmaceutical gravy train. Heck, their campaigns are paid for in part by the pharmaceutical gravy train.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    What Spaceboy said.


    United Corporations of America.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, May 3rd, 2011 @ 12:38pm

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [corporations] are created equal, that they are endowed by their [investors] with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are [power], [property] and the pursuit of [profit]. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among [corporations], deriving their just powers from the consent of the [shareholders], That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the [lobbyists] to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their [business model viability] and [profitability].

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 12:43pm

    Re:

    Funny. In a sad, pathetic sort of way. :(

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 12:44pm

    Re:

    The sad part is that there is a large population in the US who completely agree with this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re:

    Are they called politicians?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    antimatter3009 (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:01pm

    Re:

    No no no no no! I'm so, so tired of seeing this. Look, you can still vote and so can everyone else. If politicians are listening to money over voters it's because voters aren't making themselves heard. We literally have direct control over these people's jobs, yet they're not listening to us? And yet we keep rehiring them every chance we get? If a manager kept hiring terrible employees wouldn't you eventually decide the manager is doing a poor job?

    I hate seeing people blame "the politicians" or "the corporations"; no, this is all on the voting populace. On us. Shirking blame onto someone else is only an excuse to avoid the truth: in a democracy the people get the government they deserve, and we have that government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    jackwagon (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:17pm

    Re: Re:

    When you don't trust any politicians, who do you vote for?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    run for office

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Berenerd (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And when the people selling themselves to corporate ideals have more money to put you into the ground...then what?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:30pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    What's the term for those idiots who think Ayn Rand was a deep thinker and a great American?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Re:

    And who exactly are we to vote for? The right wing mouthpiece for Corporation ABC, or the left wing shill for Corporation XYZ?

    It's like the whole ISP issue in this country - which ISP do you give your business to? The crappy one, or the shitty one?

    Because in either case, those are your only two choices.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    NullOp, May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:32pm

    USA

    The USA is all about money/profit. Really! We have no one to vote for during the presidential elections next year. Our current president is a post-turtle. The OBL thing was something he inherited and couldn't stop it like he wanted to. The sitting congress is one major corporate sell-out. What are we to do much less developing nations?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    antimatter3009 (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I don't know, nothing's perfect and you can't know the future, but what I do know is that you certainly don't just reelect the guy who's already proven to be untrustworthy in his previous term.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    antimatter3009 (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Anyone can run for office. The two party system is merely something we allow to continue, not something that's codified. So vote for someone else.

    And don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to sound overly optimistic here. The general population who uncritically lap up all the politicians' bullshit vastly (vastly) outnumber the people who pay attention and care. Your vote will probably disappear into the abyss and a new corporate shill will get elected no matter what you do.

    I'm not trying to spread hope, I just wish people would realize that the problems we continually face are not the fault of anyone but ourselves. We have control over our government and just because we wholeheartedly fail at wielding it doesn't shift the blame to anyone else. It's still our fault.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, there are a number of issues with third party validation that keeps the two party system in place. No third party can have a national party. This limits their representation in the govn.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Mike C. (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Re:

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA....

    oh wait... you're serious....

    let me laugh harder!!


    Tell me, oh great and wise one... how do we get the less intelligent voters to stop believing the half-truths and misdirections spread by corporations with their fancy ads during election season? How do we, the lowly voters who actually take the time to understand the issues get our voices heard over the babble of idiocy?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    antimatter3009 (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ok, I'll grant you this. We have a lot of policies which unintentionally and intentionally prop up the two party system. Third parties have a tough time. That said, in any given election you can still vote for whoever you want, not just a D or an R, and independents/third parties do win elections here and there, especially at lower levels of government. And again, we could easily elect people who would actually work on fixing the system, but we don't. Our fault.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    PlagueSD, May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I don't know, nothing's perfect and you can't know the future, but what I do know is that you certainly don't just reelect the guy who's already proven to be untrustworthy in his previous term.


    Explain to me how George "W" Bush got re-elected then...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    Ron Rezendes (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:15pm

    Re: USA

    "The OBL thing was something he inherited and couldn't stop it like he wanted to."

    Citation requested for the "...couldn't stop it like he wanted to.".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    haiku, May 3rd, 2011 @ 2:20pm

    Pharma trade rip-offs

    Ten years ago the South African government - by far the largest purchaser of medicines in South Africa - provided a list of basic drugs that were cheaper when purchased retail in Europe/USA (and shipped back to South Africa) than they were on tender to the government.

    The pharmaceutical industry's response: the South African government is being terribly unreasonable & is guilty of playing dirty pool ...

    See http://www.economist.com/node/529284?story_id=529284

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Jack Repenning (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 3:05pm

    Re: voter power

    USTR is not elected.

    In fact, the people who actually do all this aren't even appointed.

    The President is elected.
    USTR himself is appointed by the President.
    But the bureaucrats in the Office of the TR have been there years longer than the figure-head USTR and President.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 3:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You kill them and take their stuff, obviously. BOOTSTRAPS!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 3:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Politicians?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Willton, May 3rd, 2011 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Tell me, oh great and wise one... how do we get the less intelligent voters to stop believing the half-truths and misdirections spread by corporations with their fancy ads during election season? How do we, the lowly voters who actually take the time to understand the issues get our voices heard over the babble of idiocy?

    Ask Mike Bloomberg.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    FuzzyDuck, May 3rd, 2011 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Doesn't that prove his point that the problem is with the voting public reelecting bad politicians.

    They'll do it again in 2012 with Obama.

    Certainly it's a fact that the Republicans probably won't have a better candidate, but that also is a problem with the voting public. Primaries are open, the public can help choose the next Republican candidate. So go vote for a moderate Republican in the primaries.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 4:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Lawyers?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    Spaceboy (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 4:42pm

    Re: Re:

    You misunderstand the problem. Politicians are public servants. They are there to serve us. They aren't there to care for us, or do what they *think* is right or what some corporate lobbyist wants them to do. They are there to see that WE are FUCKING REPRESENTED. Period. When the FDA grants drug monopolies to companies that then raise prices by 15,000%, that is not in our best interests. When politicians go against the will of their constituents because of some future political benefit, they are betraying their trust.

    Too many politicians ONLY listen to lobbyists. Would your senator make time for you to listen to your problems if you called his office? Can you call your Congressman up and invite him to lunch? Or on an overseas 'factfinding' trip?

    I didn't think so.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    PrometheeFeu (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 4:44pm

    Re: Re:

    What you say is technically correct. But it's also irrelevant. People aren't suddenly going to stop voting for the Republicans or Democrats just because they are corrupt ineffective and in many cases stupid. The population at large had plenty of opportunities to do that and still has not done it and there are very good reasons for that. One reason is that political promises are nothing more than words. So ultimately, politicians can simply lie and get elected. Another reason is that politicians do a LOT (much of it bad) and most of us don't have time to keep track of every one of their screw ups. Finally it is very difficult to change your mind especially when it has such an insignificant effect. (Imagine the last election with your vote changed, think it would have made a difference?) What all of this conspires to is ensure that people will vote based on who sounds the best with no regard for anything else.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 5:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, but notice exactly who "controls" voting. The people will either be Republican or Democrat in your area. You have no actual proportion system in place to take the extra votes that go to a third party. You have no proportion system in place, and it's a "winner takes all" system. The net effect is that your vote for a third party is just like your vote didn't count at all.

    That's the main problem with US politics. Even if you vote as you know is right, the rules are heavily favored against anyone that might be able to make a difference. You vote liberal? Well, we have a Democrat that's something like that. But he believes in strong abortion laws to appease the Catholic crowd of voters and possibly take those votes away.

    It doesn't make sense, but it's the detriment of a bunch of rules that are destroying the society of America, for no gain but the two party system itself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Any Mouse (profile), May 3rd, 2011 @ 7:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    How much do you really believe that your vote counts? In the end, the popular vote means NOTHING in an election. It's the electoral college that matters, and those votes are cast by other people, not by the count of the popular vote.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    antimatter3009 (profile), May 4th, 2011 @ 5:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I didn't say anywhere that you could fix it. But remember that the "babble of idiocy" is just other voters. I'm not saying this is your fault specifically, oh well informed voting citizen, but it's the populace in general. And unfortunately, we, the (relatively) well informed and interested, are vastly outnumbered by those who spread and swallow the mass idiocy.

    But all of this doesn't change the fact that the fault lies with the public who allow this to continue. The politicians and corporations can only do what we let them get away with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    antimatter3009 (profile), May 4th, 2011 @ 5:35am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I don't know what you're disagreeing with... you're making the exact same point I am. They should serve and represent us, and if they don't it's our responsibility to remove them from office. The politicians are certainly not blameless, far from it, but the fault ultimately lies with us for not exercising our oversight.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This