Letter from US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky to Thai Minister of Commerce Supachai Panitchpakdi
February 7, 2000

The Honorable Supachai Panitchpakdi
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce
Bangkok, Thailand

Dear Minister Saupachai:

I am writing to ensure that the position of the United States is clear regarding consideration by your government to improve access to treatment and care for HIV positive Thai citizens. We recognize and support the Royal Thai Government's goal of extending effective health care to all its citizens - including those now living with HIV/AIDS. This is a goal we fully endorse and believe can be acheived while providing the appropriate protections for intellectual property.

As the President announced last December in his speech to the WTO ministerial, and the Vice President reiterated in his January speech at the United Nations Security Council, the United States is committed to helping developing countries gain access to affordable medicines, inclouding those for HIV/AIDS. As a result, the United States will ensure the application of U.S. trade law related to intellectual property remains sufficiently flexible to respond to public health crises.

We encourage Thai officials to explore all options for extending access to effective treatments. Nevertheless, the final choice is one for Thailand to make.

If the Royal Thai Government determines that issuing a compulsory license is required to address its health care crisis, the United States will raise no objection, provided the compulsory license is consistent with the provisions of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

We share with the Royal Thai Governmenta belief that access to modern pharmaceuticals can be enhanced in a manner that assures the safety and efficacy of the drugs, preserves intellectual property rights, and promotes the worldwide pursuit of newer, more effective medicines.


Charlene Barshefsky

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