In a letter to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on 6th February 2020, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders submitted comments to the review process of USTR’s 2020 Special 301 Report and raised concerns of the public health impact of this practice.
USTR had called for comments from stakeholders for their 2020 Special 301 Report. The Special 301 report is an annual report by the USTR that puts countries on watch lists, in line with its powerful pharmaceutical industry demands that governments not make use of public health safeguards in intellectual property and regulatory laws.
MSF has recommended the USTR to refrain from listing countries on the Special 301 watchlists for making use of flexibilities available under the TRIPS agreement to promote access to medicines for all. MSF has further made note of the USTR’s recent visit to India for a potential trade deal and has urged not to pursue damaging policies that are aimed at changing the country’s pro-access intellectual property and regulatory laws.
The USTR’s approach towards continuously raising standards of intellectual property is a hindrance in addressing the global problem of excessive pricing of pharmaceutical products in developed and developing countries.