AIDS Activist Letter to State Department on Special 301

Dear Ms. Mills, Mr. Lew, and Mr. Steinberg,

Enclosed please find a complaint filed officially with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health last week on behalf of Health GAP and a dozen organizations in India, Thailand, Malaysia, Kenya, and Costa Rica regarding U.S. trade policy and the use of the "Special 301" process in ways that undermine access to affordable medicines.  Most recently, for example, a court in Brazil last week denied civil society requests for a "compulsory license" to make a key AIDS drug more affordable because, in part, the U.S. had already cited Brazil on the 301 list, threatening its trading status with the U.S.

We have engaged extensively--with allies including Oxfam, KEI, Public Citizen, and others--with the US Trade Representative, but have seen little/no progress on this issue and have been sorely disappointed.  We had hoped that we would see a return to the huge progress made by President Clinton in the last year of his Presidency in transforming US trade policy... progress reversed by President Bush.

Our hope is that Secretary Clinton and all of you might help intervene to achieve a different outcome.

I am writing to request a meeting, at your earliest convenience, to explore these issues of ensuring medical innovation here in the U.S. yet balancing that with expanding access to essential medicines in developing countries.  We believe that this can be one area where the Obama administration can break cleanly from the policies of its predecessors and show that you will stop pushing the agenda of big- pharma at the detriment to people's health.

Please let me know if you would be willing to meet and, if so, when.

Many thanks for your engagement.


Matthew Kavanagh
Director of US Advocacy
Health GAP


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