Mr. Paisan Tan-Ud
Chairman of PHA Network of Thailand
Dear Mr. Paisan Tan-Ud:
I am writing in response to your letter to President Clinton regarding efforts to improve access to treatment and care for HIV positive Thai citizens. We recognize and support the Government of Thailand's goal of extending effective health care to all its citizens-including people now living with AIDS. This is a goal we fully endorse and believe can be achieved while providing 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, including 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, including ongoing direct dialogue with pharmaceutical manufacturers. But the final choice is one for Thailand to make.
If the 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 issued in a manner fully consistent with the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
We share with the Government of Thailand a 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.
Joseph S. Papovich
Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for
Services, Investment and Intellectual