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U.S, WTO threaten Brazil AIDS treatment program
by Fred P (fredamie [at]
Thursday Feb 22nd, 2001 1:16 PM
The U.S. government has filed suit with the WTO to prevent Brazil from distributing treatement for AIDS, claiming Brazil violates the patents of giant drug companies. Brazil's death rate from AIDS dropped from 11,000 to 4,000 last year. The Brazil govt. pays the cost and gives the drugs free to those who suffer.
U.S, WTO threaten Brazil medicine

The U.S. has filed a complaint with the WTO on behalf of giant drug companies, claiming that Brazil is illegally creating and distributing AIDS drugs. The complaint says that Brazil should not be allowed to create these drugs without paying the U.S. drug companies a licensing fee.

Brazil can create the drugs at a very low cost and after distributing the drugs, deaths from AIDS in Brazil dropped from approximately 11,000 to 4,136 in one year. The drugs are widely distributed to those with AIDS through government and religious medical programs. The Brazilian government pays the cost in an effort to control the epidemic.

Now the U.S. drug companies threaten this progress because they say they are not getting their cut. In 1997, Brazil passed a law to honor international patents. The U.S. drug companies claim they patented the drugs the Brazilians are using prior to 1997. Does Brazil have to honor patents created before 1997? Does a drug company have the right to take life-saving medicine out of the hands of doctors and nurses? It seems the decision is in the hands of the World Trade Organization for dispute resolution...

Brazil has been distributing these life-saving drugs for free to the Brazilian people. Reports show that Brazilians are taking the medications regularly and the giant drop in the mortality rate indicates that the government's program is working. This is a model that other countries could be using to prevent the spread of AIDS and other disesases.

Other countries that produce and distribute low-cost AIDS drugs are also threatened. The drug companies are going after South Africa next, and are currently filing suit with the WTO against the South African government claiming similar patent infringement. In all, the U.S. government has threatened trade sanctions against over 30 countries, including India, the Dominican Republic, Thailand, Argentina and Brazil, at the request of the drug firms.

Ofxam, an organization which provides food and medicine to poor people around the world is active in the protest against these life-threatening trade sanctions. Ofxam has asked GlaxoSmithKline to drop its suit against South Africa, which will begin on March 5th. Visit the Ofxam website, contact GlaxoSmithKline, contact the WTO, write your congressperson and express yourself if you feel that emergency medical treatment to stop an epidemic supersedes the WTO's enforcement of drug company patents. The alternative is increased mortality in the countries threatened.
Thursday Feb 22nd, 2001 4:43 PM
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