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Africa Treatment Access: Contact President and Congress on Africa Executive Order

January 26, 2001

According to recent news reports, the Bush Administration is considering revoking the executive order Clinton signed last May, that the U.S. would not require stricter patent protection of AIDS medicines in Sub-Saharan Africa than is required by the intellectual-property provisions of the World Trade Organization. This executive order applies only to Africa, and only to HIV/AIDS medications. It is opposed by pharmaceutical companies.

We suspect that this news story was leaked in order to test the political strength of supporters of treatment access for Africa, vs. that of the pharmaceutical industry. Although this industry has given millions of dollars of campaign contributions, mostly to Republicans, no one knows how President Bush will decide to handle this issue.

The Africa Policy Information Center ( provided some background in an alert emailed on January 26:


President Bush, after only three days in office, is reportedly considering reversing President Clinton's executive order preventing the U.S. from retaliating against African nations that seek to draw upon entirely legal provisions within the World Trade Organization to secure affordable medicines for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. The pharmaceutical industry, one of his largest corporate contributors, has aggressively sought to prevent African nations from using compulsory licensing and parallel imports to obtain these medicines cheaply... [This alert is at]


Write or call President George W. Bush at the White House, Washington D.C. 20500, or 202-456-1111.

Write to your Senators at the U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20501, and to your Congressional Representative at the U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515, or call their local or Washington offices. Make sure it is clear that you are a constituent.

Talking points:

  • The AIDS crisis is one of the great disasters in history, and is worst in Africa;

  • Brazil has achieved huge success in getting HIV treatment to those who need it, greatly reducing both AIDS deaths and new infections (see The New York Times Magazine, Sunday January 28, 2001, cover story, "How to Solve the World's AIDS Crisis," by Tina Rosenberg; also see The Washington Post, September 17, 2000, "Brazil Becomes Model in Fight Against AIDS," by Stephen Buckley, page A22). The United States should not use its economic power to stop Brazil, or stop African countries from creating similar programs (see "News Flash: Brazil..." in this issue).

  • The pharmaceutical company plans for discounts or free drugs announced to date are unlikely to ever reach more than a tiny minority of Africans who need treatment.

  • The current executive order will not reduce profits for future research and development, since all of Africa makes up less than 1.5% of the global pharmaceutical market. Only one in a thousand Africans with HIV are receiving modern treatment today, and the vast majority who are priced out of the market generate no profit or incentive for drug research and development.

ISSN # 1052-4207

Copyright 2001 by John S. James. Permission granted for noncommercial reproduction, provided that our address and phone number are included if more than short quotations are used.

Back to the AIDS Treatment News January 26, 2001 contents page.

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This article was provided by AIDS Treatment News. It is a part of the publication AIDS Treatment News.