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.

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

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antimatter3009 (profile) says:

Re: 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.

FuzzyDuck says:

Re: Re: Re:3 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

antimatter3009 (profile) says:

Re: 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.

antimatter3009 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 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.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 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.

Mike C. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:


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?

Willton says:

Re: 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.

antimatter3009 (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Spaceboy (profile) says:

Re: 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.

antimatter3009 (profile) says:

Re: 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.

PrometheeFeu (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Ima Fish (profile) says:

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.

MrWilson says:

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].

NullOp says:


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?

haiku says:

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

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