WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today asked the chief trade representative for the United States to ensure people in the poorest countries around the world have access to low-cost medicines.
“Making sure people in poor countries have access to life-saving medicine is our moral responsibility,” Sen. Sanders wrote. “The European Commission and the Holy See both support a permanent exception for drug patents for these poor countries. The United States government should support this as well. Lives are at stake.”
The World Trade Organization will decide next month whether the world’s poorest countries can continue to access needed medications at more affordable prices. Since 2002, a waiver from the WTO has given millions of people around the world access to critical medical treatments. Flexible enforcement of intellectual property rules allows poorer countries to establish their own pharmaceutical industries and treat millions of patients with HIV and other diseases.
Sanders is requesting that a new, permanent waiver be granted for poor countries qualified as Least-Developed Countries. The classification is based on a number of factors, including levels of poverty, literacy, infant mortality and economic vulnerability. Over 400 million people live below the poverty line in states classified as Least-Developed Countries. The current waiver expires on January 1, 2016.
Click here to read the letter.