What Does Democrats.com Have Against Poor People in Thailand Getting Affordable Medicines?

On Tuesday Ellen Shaffer, a public health activist, was send a message from Bob Fertik, from Democrats.com, a group that supposedly supports the democratic party and liberal causes. It called upon Ellen and thousands of others who received the same message to "Stop the Outsourcing of US Jobs to Thailand," saying " Thailand has been taken over by a military regime hostile to good American jobs in our science industries," and then linked to this page, which sends anti-Thailand emails to Congress.

Apparently Bob Fertik is the latest of an army of Democrats and Republicans being paid to push Thailand onto the U.S.T.R. 301 list for not having high enough intellectual property right standards.

What did Thailand do that got Democrats.com, the front group U.S.A. for Innovation, the New America Foundation's James Pinkerton, the Progess and Freedom Foundation James Delong, Ken Adelman and others employed?

Thailand issued compulsory licenses on three overpriced drugs, including two drugs for AIDS and one for heart disease. Thailand did this to obtain access to less expensive generic products. Thailand did this in compliance with WTO rules, and the patent owners are free to negotiate with the Thailand government on the royalties for those compulsory licenses. But instead, they want to protect their ability to price products very high, and are lobbying the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration to put pressure on Thailand.

To put things in perspective, Thailand has a per capita income less than 7 percent of the U.S. Three months ago, Abbott was charging nearly $4,000 per year for a single AIDS drug (Abbott dropped the price to $1,000 after Thailand's action), and Sanofi was charging a price for a heart disease drug that was too high for 80 percent of the population. The actions of the Thailand Ministry of Health have been endorsed by Doctors without Borders, Oxfam, the Clinton Foundation, HealthGap, Essential Action, Knowledge Ecology International, Third World Network, and hundreds of other groups and experts.

Apparently with the change in the Congress, the efforts by the highly regarded health authorities in Thailand provide a big business opportunity for lobbyists with good Democratic credentials, like Bob Fertik and Democrats.com. This reminds me why people think Washington, D.C. is a corrupt place. It is.

Bog Fertik's letter follows:
From: Democrats.com Subject: Stop the Outsourcing of US Jobs to Thailand Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2007 11:26:04 -0400 Reply-To: activist@democrats.com

Dear Ellen,

Thailand has been taken over by a military regime hostile to good American jobs in our science industries. The government is now stealing the inventions of American workers to pay for inflated salaries and new toys for the military.

Worse, the Thai military is now trying to convince other nations to follow its lead. The Minister of Health will be in the U.S. this week to convince policymakers, academics and the press that these new spending priorities are more important than the jobs of the American innovators who are working to save lives.

Take action today to let your representative officials know that theft of American property by the Thai government and threats to American jobs must be stopped!

Bob Fertik

CPTech's web page on Thailand dispute, which is maintained by Michael Palmedo.