Head of Brazil’s AIDS Program Calls U.S. Objections to Loosening of TRIPS Rules ‘Inconsistent’ Given Cipro Agreement
Paulo Teixeira, head of Brazil's AIDS program, on Tuesday called U.S. objections to the loosening of World Trade Organization rules on drug patents "unreasonable" given the Unites States' "demands" for cheaper Cipro in the wake of the anthrax scare, Reuters reports. U.S. officials last week secured a deal with Bayer to obtain the anthrax drug Cipro at a discounted price after threatening to circumvent the company's patent and get the drug from a generic producer (Darlington, Reuters, 10/30). "They are doing exactly what we did [on AIDS drugs]. It is inconsistent to then oppose making that an option on a global level," Teixeira said. Brazil and India are leading the call for a ministerial declaration at next week's WTO meeting in Qatar that would allow countries greater flexibility to suspend patent rights in times of national public health emergencies (Kahn, New York Times, 10/31). "We have more than 50 mostly developing countries behind us plus [nongovernmental organizations], and it appears France is supporting us. We have very few days left to make changes to the agenda, but we're holding out that public opinion will convince the United States," Teixeira said. U.S. officials have contended that the current regulations spelled out in the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement are "flexible" and that countries like Brazil intend to make generic drugs to sell to other nations if the relaxed rules are accepted (Reuters, 10/30). "They want a huge 'get out of jail free' card any time you use the words 'public health,'" an unnamed American trade official said (New York Times, 10/31). Teixeira called that assertion "absurd," saying that the U.S. government "know[s] full well that we produce generics for domestic use" (Reuters, 10/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.