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Subject:        News Flash, Vice President Gore endorses compulsory licensing and parallel imports of pharmaceuticals



Subject:    News Flash, Vice President Gore endorses compulsory licensing and parallel imports of pharmaceuticals

Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 18:47:34 -0400
From: James Love <[log in to unmask]>
Organization:  http://www.cptech.org

Today the Congressional Black Caucus made available copies of an exchange of letters between James Clyburn, the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (written on June 24) and Vice President Al Gore (written on June 25), regarding US trade policy toward South Africa.

The Clyburn letter is one page and the Gore letter is 2.25 pages.

In my opinion, the most important part of the Vice President's letter is the following statement in the second paragraph.  It reads:


   I want you to know from the start that I support South Africa's efforts to enhance health care for its people-- including efforts to engage in compulsory licensing and parallel importing of pharmacueticals--so long as they are done in a way consistent with international agreements.

     (Letter to Representative James E. Clyburn, June 25, 1999)


This statement seems to suggest a major change in US government policy.  To put this into perspective, right now the US government has trade actions against 11 countries for parallel importing (copyright and pharmaceutical cases) and 14 countries on compulsory licensing.  We have a special "out-of-cycle" review of South Africa on both compulsory licensing and parallel importing of pharmaceuticals, and another out-of-cycle review against Israel on both
issues.

On the other hand, a word of caution is recommended.  The letter continues to frame this in terms of "so long as they are done in a way consistent with international agreements," as if, for example, there is any doubt about the legal basis for parallel imports, or as if there is any doubt about the South African government's  often expressed willingness to abide by WTO Article 31 TRIPS rules on compulsory licensing.  Moreover, the remainder of the letter provides a highly selective and self serving
account of the Vice President's actions, leaving out key details such as the withholding of tariff reductions over the pharmacuetical dispute, the subequent decision by the Administration to tie the availability to the outcome of negotiations between drug company executives and the South African Ministery of Health over its Medicines Act, and the recent April 30, 1999 decision to begin a new round of trade pressures against South Africa, including the Special out-of-cycle review to be concluded in
September.

Tonight there is a much anticipated demonstration against the Vice President at Philadelphia fund raiser, where these issues will be raised yet again.

More on this later.

Jamie Love


--
James Love, Director, Consumer Project on Technology
I can be reached at [log in to unmask], by telephone 202.387.8030,
by fax at 202.234.5176. CPT web page is http://www.cptech.org