A prescription for failure: Health and intellectual property in the Dominican Republic.

Georgetown Law | March 23, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of nine Georgetown Law students have written a report, "Prescription for Failure: Health and Intellectual Property in the Dominican Republic," which finds that U.S. efforts to increase intellectual property protections in the Dominican Republic may lead to sharp increases in the cost of lifesaving drugs and, as a result, the declining health and even deaths of those who may be unable to afford them.

"The intellectual property provisions imposed on the Dominican Republic in the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) will place lifesaving drugs at prices too high for the average Dominican to afford," said Patrick Griffith, a member of the fact-finding team and a third-year student at Georgetown Law.

The report is based on more than 50 interviews with patients, health care providers, nongovernmental organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and government representatives, conducted in the Dominican Republic and Washington D.C., over the past seven months. It details the difficulties Dominican citizens and government agencies face in accessing affordable lifesaving medicines.

While the Dominican government has been working with international donors to help provide lifesaving drugs for HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB at little or no cost to patients, the report notes that this system may be unsustainable if drug prices rise as a result of provisions in DR-CAFTA. One patient told the investigators, "It’s a worry that the medications [funded by international donors] will run out because when the medications run out we will die."

The report recommends that Congress extend the same intellectual property provisions to the DR-CAFTA countries that were offered to Peru in a 2007 trade agreement. More information about the report can be found here.

source: Georgetown Law