Since its inception in 1988, the United States Trade Representative’s “Special 301” adjudication of foreign intellectual property law standards has been used to promote policies restricting access to affordable medications around the world. President-elect Obama released a platform promising to “break the stranglehold that a few big drug and insurance companies have on these life-saving drugs” and pledged support for “the rights of sovereign nations to access quality-assured, low-cost generic medication to meet their pressing public health needs.” The 2009 and 2010 Special 301 reports, however, indicate that the Obama Administration has not yet implemented this pledge into administration trade policy. Although the 2010 Report shows some improvement, the Obama Administration continues using Special 301 to pressure developing countries to adopt escalating intellectual property rules that are not required by any international agreement and that will negatively impact access to medicines.
Flynn, Sean. “Special 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 and Global Access to Medicine.” Journal of Generic Medicines (forthcoming): 451-472.