PRESIDENT CLINTON ANNOUNCES NEW COOPERATIVE EFFORT TO
POOR COUNTRIES GAIN ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE MEDICINES, INCLUDING
FOR HIV/AIDS TREATMENT
December 1, 1999
The President today announced that the Office of the United States Trade
Representative (USTR) and the Department of Health and Human Services
(HHS) will develop a cooperative approach on health-related intellectual
property matters consistent with our goal of helping poor countries gain
access to affordable medicines. Through this approach, we will ensure
the application of U.S. trade law related to intellectual property, such
as Special 301, remains sufficiently flexible to respond to
legitimate public health crises. President Clinton also called upon our
trading partners to join him in this effort. The United States will continue
to work with its partner nations, multilateral organizations, industry,
and affected communities to improve access to medical treatment.
Poor countries face special challenges providing adequate public health
care and gaining access to affordable medicines, including those needed
to treat diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
- Under this new arrangement, there will be a more direct interaction
between USTR and HHS on health-related intellectual property issues.
- When a foreign government expresses concern that U.S. trade law
related to intellectual property significantly impedes its ability
to address a health crisis, USTR will seek substantive information
from HHS on the health conditions prevailing in that country.
- This will enable USTR to ensure that the application of U.S. trade
law related to intellectual property, consistent with international
trade treaties, is sufficiently flexible to respond to public health
The challenge of improving access to treatments without stifling innovation
is one that eludes simple answers. A modern patent system helps promote
the rapid innovation, development, and commercialization of effective
and safe drug therapies for diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Sound public health
policy and intellectual property protection are, and must continue to
be, mutually supportive. The WTO Agreement on the Trade-Related Aspects
of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) allows
the flexibility for all WTO Members to respond to public health crises.
As a related policy objective, we continue to assist developing countries
create the public health infrastructure that will allow treatments to
be utilized effectively. Treating diseases effectively requires that developing
countries not only make adequate investment in prevention efforts, clinics
and medical equipment, but continuous monitoring of treatments to ensure
that no contamination occurs and that medicines are administered at the time and with the appropriate dosage.
Without such infrastructure, there is significant risk that pharmaceuticals,
including antibiotics and HIV drugs, may not be administered to patients