USTR releases documents from 2012 R&D treaty negotiations

On September 28, 2012, nearly three years ago, KEI submitted a FOIA request to USTR for “all documents relating to the World Health Organization (WHO) consideration of an agreement or treaty to support medical R&D.”

Three years later USTR has released 89 pages of documents, with some redactions. But USTR also withheld 64 documents pursuant to FOIA exemption 552(b)(5) and three documents pursuant to FOIA exemption 552(b)(1).

Included in the release are two letters from Business Europe, two letters from General Electric, one letter signed by NAM, NFTC, ECAT, the U.S. Chamber and USCIB, and an agenda of a meeting (included in part below) between HHS and PhRMA and several PhRMA members, that USTR and State objected to, because they were not invited. I was particularly interested in reading how HHS had an agenda item, “PAHO Director General Elections,” since, well, these health agencies are supposed to regulate the drug companies, not use them to vet high level appointments.

The industry letters opposing the R&D treaty include:

The released emails, which are in one large PDF file, illustrate the close relationship between various agencies in the Obama administration, and big drug companies, when there are issues concerning access to medicines by poor people. It is also instructive, as USTR tries to conclude the TPP negotiations, that the United States continues to take its cues from big drug companies in opposing global agreements to expand medical R&D financing, while demanding higher standards for IPR and high prices for drugs and other medical inventions, on the grounds that more IPR and higher prices are needed to finance R&D. The road not taken would be better for patients, and that point cannot be repeated enough.

2PM Global Health Meeting with Ambassador Jim Kolker, Peter Mamacos, and Ann Blackwood

  • Corry Jacobs, PhRMA
  • Andrew Rudman, PhRMA
  • Joxel Garcia, International Healthcare Solutions Group
  • Claudia Poteet, Pfizer
  • Sean Callinicos, Sanofi-Pastuer
  • Carlos Espinal, Sanofi Pastuer (pending clearance)
  • Jonathan Santamauro, Abbott
  • Bradley Rossin, AstraZeneca
  • Christine Bugos, Emdserono
  • Rodney Lopez, Merck

Meeting Agenda

2PM Global Health Meeting with
Ambassador Jim Kolker,Peter Mamacos, and Ann Blackwood

I. WHO and the WHA:

  • Conflict of Interest
  • CEWG (R&D Treaty)
  • NCDs
  • Millenium Development Goals (MDGs)
  • Essential Medicines Pricing Guidelines
  • UNEP Mercury Discussions


  • PAHO Director General Elections

James Love

James Love is the Director of Knowledge Ecology International. Previously, he was an economist for the Center for Study of Responsive Law where he also directed the Consumer Project on Technology and the Taxpayer Assets Project, Senior Economist for the Frank Russell Corporation, and held lecturer positions at Rutgers and Princeton Universities. His KEI webpage is