Last night, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic Act of 2012 (HR 6138). One section of the bill aims at protecting the use of flexible intellectual property policies allowing access to medicines in low and middle income countries, by preventing the U.S. government from using trade policy to attack these policies.
The legislation was timed for the beginning of the XIX International AIDS Conference, beginning on Monday in Washington, DC.
The part of the legislation related to access to medicines is below. The full text is not yet on the Library of Congress “Thomas” site, but will be available here.
SEC. 1203. ENSURING UNITED STATES TRADE POLICY DOES NOT RESTRICT ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE MEDICINES.
In administering title III of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2411 et seq.), the United States Government shall not seek, through negotiation or otherwise, the revocation or revision of any intellectual property law or policy of a low- or middle-income country that regulates HIV and opportunistic infection pharmaceuticals or medical technologies if the law or policy of the country—
(1) promotes access to affordable HIV and opportunistic infection pharmaceuticals or medical technologies for affected populations in that country;
(2) provides intellectual property protection consistent with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights referred to in section 101(d)(15) of the Uruguay Round Agree5 ments Act (19 U.S.C. 3511(d)(15)).
Rep. Lee said in a statement: “Thirty years after the first discovery of AIDS cases, the U.S. has made tremendous progress in addressing the global and domestic crisis. AIDS, however, remains an urgent global crisis requiring a long-term strategy and immediate action. Our hard won successes are in jeopardy and H.R. 6138, the Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic Act, is a critical measure as we recommit ourselves to fighting to end AIDS. Our charge in Congress must now be to ensure that we provide the necessary resources to address these urgent needs and ensure that this new strategy gets implemented quickly and effectively.”