17 October 2016: USTR Ambassador Michael Froman’s reflections on the United Nations High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines

On Monday morning, 17 October 2016, the United States Trade Representative, Michael Froman, delivered a lecture at the Graduate Institute entitled, The WTO in a Time of Change: Some Reflections.


During the question and answer session, Priti Patnaik, an Indian journalist asked Ambassador Froman a question relating to the Final Report of United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines, specifically:

The UN HLP recommended that WTO members must register complaints about certain countries exerting pressure against those who use TRIPS flexibilities; what is your response to this recommendation?

Ambassador Froman provided the following response:

The position of the US is that we want to make sure that there is access to medicines, incentives to new medicines, and to do with a whole array of issues that go to how people get access to affordable and cutting edge life saving treatments or drugs and in our own system and in our trade agreements we work very much to address that array of issues. We have concerns about some of the conclusions of the UN high level panel that seem to suggest there’s inherent tension between the trading system and promoting innovation and ensuring access to drugs and we think that when it comes to things like TRIPS and the various other provisions of the WTO, it’s best to leave it to the WTO to work these issues out as opposed to taking them up in fora that may not be informed as much by the history and the rationale for some of these provisions.