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This article has been written by Ishaan Banerjee, a student of Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. This article is about a recently launched blog by some learned academicians which talks about a unique topic: access to medicine and healthcare services and their inter-relation with IPR and trade law. 

Introduction 

Recently, a new trade law blog; The TradeRx Report was launched by the Texas A&M University School of Law and is being run by a couple of academicians from the John Marshall Law School and the Texas A&M University School of Law. It has an associated website at www.traderxreport.com

This blog is different from other trade law blogs in the sense that it focuses on access to healthcare and medicines, in relation to intellectual property law and international trade law. With the support of a couple of talented and learned academicians and a unique focus, this blog is surely one of the upcoming blogs in IPR law and international trade law. 

What is the blog about?

The TradeRx Report talks about access to medical services like affordable medicines and healthcare in relation to intellectual property rights and international trade law. This includes trade treaties and agreements like The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the Comprehensive & Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and many other bilateral and multilateral agreements. 

This blog has been made after observing the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has completely jolted the global economy and healthcare systems. It has raised alarms over accessibility to healthcare services, medicines, and treatments. The inter-relationship of public health, intellectual property, and trade have been thoroughly explored in this blog. The current situation entails finding a solution where innovation is encouraged at the same time while increasing access to medicines and healthcare on a global level. 

Robert B. Ahdieh, the dean of the Texas A&M University School of Law stated that at the time when the economy is weak and recession is looming, coupled with the fact that access to healthcare is in shambles even in the time of COVID-19, this blog is a brilliant forum for the exchange of views between interested parties; academia, industry practitioners and representatives, so that solutions can be figured out for the public health crisis. 

It must be noted that this blog has a purely informational purpose and it is not to be used as legal advice or for business purposes. 

Blog posts till now

Six blog posts have been written on the date the blog was started: 18th May 2020. All of their posts have been centred around the current COVID-19 pandemic. The first post is by Srividhya Ragavan, one of the persons running the blog. She talks about restoring trade amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and reasons that access to healthcare is the solution. The post states that excess IPR protections accorded to medicines and healthcare treatments have restricted access to healthcare and this has led to difficulties in obtaining such medicines and treatments even when COVID-19 ravages the entire planet.

Another post includes the topic of the human cost of misguided international trade and intellectual property policies. It is a post on similar lines to the above-mentioned post, apart from the fact that it stresses on medicines being priced higher due to patent protections which leads to unaffordability.

A post by Doris Estelle Long focuses on grey market imports in the fight against COVID-19.

The blog already has a guest post by Michael Palmedo which is centred around the United States’ position of high pricing of drugs and medicines. This is a theme that is reflected in many of the posts. Another frequent topic used in these posts is inaccessibility and unaffordability of medicines and treatments due to protectionist policies and patent protections over vital drugs and treatments which have raised the costs of these medical services.

Who are the people involved in running this blog?

Doris Estelle Long: Moderator ([email protected])

Educational Qualifications 

Professor Doris Estelle Long did her graduation from Cornell Law School. She has gotten certification in Applied Cybersecurity from M.I.T and also has an Executive Education Certificate from Harvard in the course: Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy. 

Specialisation and Work and teaching experience

She has specialisation in both domestic and international intellectual property law and its relation to technology, trade, culture, and information security.

She has several ongoing research projects in her area of specialisation, which are also exploring topics like access to medicines and healthcare, smart law and information, and data security. She has been the author of many books and articles on IPR law and has also served as a columnist on international IP law for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. She has an excellent teaching experience too, having taught in many countries, including serving as a Fulbright Professor at Jiao Tung University in Shanghai and in countries such as Australia, Britain and the Czech Republic. 

Professor Long was an Attorney-Advisor in the Office of Legislative and International Affairs of the USPTO where she helped in negotiating the IPR Enforcement Sections of the Jordan Free Trade Agreement and was given the responsibility for international IP enforcement problems, where she dealt with TRIPS compliances and WTO accessions. Her work experience in international intellectual property rights law is boosted by the fact that she has served as a consultant for the governments of Ethiopia, Botswana, China and the Philippines for IP protection and enforcement issues. 

She has considerable experience of practising corporate law as well. She was an attorney with Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin and Kahn, and Howry and Simon, where she specialised in commercial and IPR law. 

Currently, she is a Professor Emeritus of Law and earlier was a Director of the Center for Intellectual Property, Information and Privacy at the UIC John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois. 

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Srividhya Ragavan: Coordinator and Advisor [email protected]

Educational Qualifications

Professor Srividhya Ragavan graduated in BA. LLB (Hons) degree from the National Law School of India University where she was a merit certificate holder. Throughout her long and enriching career, she has been a recipient of many prestigious awards and scholarships. She was granted the Overseas Development Agency Shared Scholarship Scheme (the ODASS Scholarship) to pursue her LL.M degree from King’s College, London. She also has an SJD degree from the George Washington University Law School. She was also the First Texas Instruments Visiting Scholar at the Center for Advanced Study and Research on Intellectual Property at the University of Washington in Seattle. 

Specialisation, Work and Teaching Experience

Professor Ragavan has had a rich academic career, having published many pieces in reputed journals and blogs. She mainly specialises in intellectual property rights law and international trade law. Her monograph titled: ‘Patents and Trade Disparities in Developing Countries’ was published by the Oxford University Press. She has also authored a co-edited book with Irene Calboli which was published by Cambridge University. She has featured in Indian media too, particularly the op-eds of prominent Indian media organisations like The Hindu, LiveMint, All India Radio, etc.

Professor Ragavan also has tremendous work experience. She has represented India’s position with regard to medication access issues with the US International Trade Commission and at the Office of the US Trade Representative. 

Professor Srividhya Ragavan is currently a Professor of Law at the Texas A&M University School of Law. She is also attached to the Center for Learning Intellectual Property Rights.

Conclusion

As is evident, this blog is being run by some very talented academicians and scholars in the field of IPR and international trade law. Furthermore, it is being run under the Texas A&M University School of Law, which is ranked in the top 10 law schools in the US for intellectual property, which surely helps in boosting the credibility and reliability of the blog. 

References

[1] https://blog.law.tamu.edu/blog/texas-am-law-launches-healthcare-blog

[2] https://www.traderxreport.com/


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