Obama Administration's Intellectual Property Policy Inflating Medical Costs Abroad

Noting that the Supreme Court last week upheld the Obama administration’s Affordable Health Act, Huffington Post reporters Zach Carter and Sabrina Siddiqui write in this Huffington Post editorial that “while the president has focused on lowering health care costs at home, he has repeatedly sought to impose higher drug prices abroad.” They add, “For pharmaceutical companies, that has meant steady profits, but for the global poor in desperate need of affordable drugs, those lofty prices are often a matter of life and death.” They continue, “Nevertheless, members of the Obama administration continue to pursue policies around drug pricing that multiple United Nations groups, the World Health Organization, human rights lawyers and patient advocates worldwide decry.”

“Two weeks ago, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea sparked an uproar among public health experts when she testified before Congress on multiple administration strategies to affect drug pricing abroad by using American international political muscle,” they note, highlighting a recent case in which India issued its first-ever compulsory license for a Bayer cancer drug, Nexavar. “Rea’s testimony is only the most explicit example of the Obama administration’s efforts to use intellectual property maneuvering to inflate medical costs abroad,” they write, adding, “Public health experts emphasize that this kind of political pressure from the U.S. can be damaging to developing nations, even if no formal trade complaint is ever brought before the [World Trade Organization (WTO)]” (7/10).