IP Protection or “Pharmaceutical Apartheid?” Political Solutions Needed. Bill Clinton, Are You Available?

Today's op ed in The Nation by Northeastern University professor Brook Baker asks whether Abbott isn't practicing "pharmaceutical apartheid" in Thailand. The company recently withdrew registration for the heat-stable form of its HIV/AIDS drug Kaletra and marketing approval applications for six other drugs in that country, after the Thai government issued a compulsory license for Kaletra. Although both sides of the "IP protection vs compassion" issue make very good points, I would argue that the industry be held to the relevant principles of the Hippocratic Oath*, just as its physician customers are, and that it soft pedal IP considerations in nations whose per capita income is low. After all, this is supposed to be a healing industry. ..*.I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being ...I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings... But the industry fears that this will open up Pandora's Box. This is a debate where each side oversimplifies and distorts the other's point of view. Perhaps it's time to recognize that both points of view are valid and necessary. And then get someone with political savvy and diplomatic ability to mediate between them. If businesses say that "market forces," rather than emotion and compassion, must reign supreme, then NGOs help these forces by increasing competition and driving down prices. If NGOs say that business' focus on IP protection prevents access to medication, that same focus permits innovative drugs to be developed. I foresee a global summit where someone like Bill Clinton, through his Foundation,  brings both sides to the negotiation table.  Not only Abbott in Thailand, but Novartis in Africa. For a dispassionate look at this ideological battle, read this paper, written a few years ago by George Washington University professor Susan Seem and Washington University (Seattle) Professor Aseem Prakash, but just as relevant today.  Here's a summary chart from the paper.
Table 1: Business and NGO Campaigns: A Comparison
    TRIPS Campaign Access to HIV/AIDS Drugs Campaign
Campaign period 1980s to the mid-1990s Mid-1990s onwards
Preferred Policy Solution  New regime for IPR protection; USTR should oppose compulsory licensing  Favor compulsory licensing, Generic drug availability
Networks normative frame Patents = profits = research = cure Copy = life
Networks material interests Stringent IPRs mean higher profits  Lower prices of AIDS drugs; political ambitions of Nader; Cipla seeking to grab market share
Key political opportunities Huge U.S. trade deficit; Arcane nature of IPR meant U.S. government relies on industry for expertise AIDS crisis, U.S. Presidential campaign; Clintons quest for legacy; Anthrax and bioterrorism
Framing strategy IPR protection is a competitiveness issue; property rights are being appropriated by pirates PhRMA greed kills; compulsory licensing essential to avert the human tragedy; R&D on most drugs funded by the government
Key actors in the network Industries: pharmaceutical, software, music and entertainment; agricultural chemicals Organizations:- U.S.: ACTN, IIPC, PhRMA- Europe: Union of Industrial & Employers Confederation of Europe- Japan: Keidanren NGOs: ACT-UP Consumer Project on Technology, Health Action International, Medecins sans Frontieres, OxfamBusiness Firms: Cipla Pharmaceuticals, Ranbaxy; Public Sector generic producer, Far Manguinhos ( Brazil)IOs: WHO, World BankOthers: Yale University Students
Normative Changes  IPRs recognized as a key part of international trade regime  Recognition of public health implications of IPRs; the Doha Declaration; Special UN session on HIV/AIDS
Substantive Changes  IPRs on both product and process; trade linkages in term of access to U.S. markets becomes the lever to ensure compliance with TRIPS  USTR withdraws the threat to sanction South Africa and Brazil; Executive Order requires mandatory consultation between USTR and the U.S. Department of Health; Dramatic fall in prices of AIDS drugs
Winner Business network The Access Campaign led by the NGO network
Source: Sell, S. and Prakash, A., Using Ideas Strategically: The Contest Between Business and NGO Networks in IP Rights,