The FTAA, Access to HIV/AIDS Treatment, and Human Rights

This briefing paper begins by giving an outline of the WTO’s Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Agreement (TRIPS) and of the Doha declaration by WTO members, which states that countries can bypass patents in medical emergencies. The paper argues that countries in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) should resist pressure from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to adopt a TRIPS-plus patent regime that increases patent rights of pharmaceutical companies. They state that this undermines the Doha Declaration and constrains developing countries’ efforts to promote the health and human rights of their citizens. The report outlines the history of generic ARV production and particularly, the success of the policy in Brazil. It argues that many other countries in the region have the capacity to produce generic drugs. The authors outline the relevant TRIPS and DOHA articles that affect the production of generic AIDS drugs. They point out that the USA has signed the DOHA declaration. Despite the declaration, the USTR is pushing TRIPS-plus, which, the authors argue, would severly limit developing countries’ ability to make and provide their citizens with affordable generic ARVs. They discuss the specific areas in whcih TRIPS-plus would damage both public health and human rights and argue that the US has a human rights obligation to promote access to drugs. The paper calls for the FTAA to include a provision stipulating that nothing in the agreement may be interpreted so as to limit states’ right to take measures to promote public health and to specify that the FTAA should and will be interpreted in conformity with the Doha Declaration.