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.

Filed Under: healthcare, patents, special 301, ustr


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  1. icon
    PrometheeFeu (profile), 3 May 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.

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