Measure Would Prevent Provisions Included in Trade Deals To Help Prevent Passage of Reimportation Bills
The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday by voice vote approved the fiscal year 2006 Science, State and Justice appropriations bill, which includes an amendment favored by supporters of prescription drug reimportation that would prohibit trade agreements with provisions that require enforcement of patent protections for medications, CongressDaily reports (Wodele, CongressDaily, 6/8).
According to some lawmakers, recent U.S. trade agreements signed with Australia, Singapore and Morocco have included such provisions -- at the request of pharmaceutical companies -- to help "impede Congress' ability" to pass legislation that would allow reimportation, the Wall Street Journal reports (Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 6/8). The provisions likely will prompt the nations to file lawsuits against the United States and enact tariffs on U.S. products if Congress passes reimportation legislation.
Rep. Anne Northup (R-Ky.), who introduced the amendment to the appropriations bill, called such provisions "back-door" efforts by the Bush administration to use trade agreements to block the passage of reimportation legislation.
House Republican leaders oppose the amendment, and Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said that the measure would block efforts by the Department of Commerce to protect other U.S. patents.
Northup said that U.S. patents are protected by U.S. patent laws, which are maintained in trade agreements. She added, "Reimportation is going to happen" (CongressDaily, 6/8).