Letter from Consumers Union to US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick on the US Position in WTO Negotiations

December 13, 2002

The Honorable Robert B. Zoellick
U.S. Trade Representative
600 - 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20508

Dear Ambassador Zoellick,

On behalf of Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, I am most concerned about the untenable US negotiating position in Geneva on access to medicines, as reported in the media.

The reported direction of the current discussions on Paragraph 6 of the DOHA declaration on TRIPS and Public Health would seriously narrow the policy approach stated in the current TRIPS agreement. And, it would be completely out of keeping with the US commitment in the DOHA Ministerial Declaration on the availability of essential medicines to all people.

While negotiating details are difficult to come by, we are concerned about, and are opposed to, the following likely results of these discussions:

Such an outcome would place the economic interests of the pharmaceutical industry over the lives and health of millions of people. This outcome is surely not reflective of the goals of the development round that the US committed to in DOHA.

We urge that the US position in the Paragraph 6 negotiations give developing countries the clear and unmistakable right to gain for their populations access to the medicines that are needed to save the lives of millions who are endangered by a wide variety of conditions and diseases, as was intended by the original TRIPS agreement and the DOHA Declaration.

Therefore, I urge you to support provisions in the Paragraph 6 negotiations that will fulfill the intent of the DOHA Declaration, that will advance global public health, and will reflect the concern the American people have always shown for the lives and health of the poor and afflicted all over the world.


Rhoda H. Karpatkin,
President Emeritus

cc: Joseph Papovich, Assistant USTR

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