[Ip-health] Money speaks: USTR releases letters from Congress backing PHRMA on exclusive rights biologic test data in TPP

Elizabeth Rajasingh elizabeth.rajasingh at keionline.org
Mon Aug 4 12:56:15 PDT 2014


August 4, 2014

As part of a partial response to FOIA request, USTR has provided KEI with
copies of 13 letters sent by members of Congress, from July 27, 2011 to
August 8, 2013, on the topic of biologic drug test data provisions in the
TPP negotiation. We had obtained several but not all of these letters
earlier from a variety of sources, including from PhRMA's web page -- where
they were proudly displayed. (See link below). With the FOIA request, we
have also obtained the responses to the letters. We also obtained three
letters from Congress on the other side (see below).

Most of the 13 letters include multiple signatures from Members of Congress
from both parties, such as the 37 US Senators signing a September 12, 2011
letter circulated by Senators Orin Hatch and John Kerry, or the 40 members
of Congress signing a letter to President Obama on July 27, 2011.

The letters were provided to KEI as part of a FOIA request we filed last
year. We received only two letters from 2013, including a March 22, 2013
letter from Senators Baucus and Hatch to acting USTR Marantis, and an
August 8, 2013 letter from Hakeem Jeffries and ten other members of the
House of Representatives to the recently confirmed USTR Michael Froman. All
of the other letters were from 2011 to 2012, and were letters sent either
to then USTR Ron Kirk or to President Obama, and cc'd to Ron Kirk.

PhRMA had managed the letters so some were organized by state delegations,
such as the letter from Delaware Senators Carper and Coons, the letter from
Texas Senators Hutchison and Cornyn, the letter from Washington State
Senators Murray and Cantwell, the letter from Oklahoma Senators Inhofe and
Coburn, and the letter signed by eight members of the House of
Representatives representing Massachusetts.

It is doubtful that we have obtained a complete set of letters from
Congress on this topic, but this collection is already an impressive
illustration of PhRMA's power with both political parties.

Note that all consumer groups working on these issues, including AARP,
Public Citizen, PIRG, KEI, and several labor unions and State legislators
have opposed the 12 year term for biologic test data, and the President's
own budget has long called for a rollback in the US law from 12 years to 7

Those supporting an obligation in the TPP for 12 years of exclusive rights
in test data want to make it nearly impossible to reduce the term in the US
domestic legislation. On this issue, like many others these days, PhRMA has
support from the right, center and left of both parties. None of the
Senators or Representatives pushing for the 12 years term for test data
rights have expressed any interest in safeguards for the predictable (and
frequent) cases where a company selling a biologic drug charges too much
money (pick any standard for what constitutes an excessive or unreasonable
price), as if drug prices are a non-issue for the United States health care
system, and our only interest is in promoting higher prices around the
world. This is what unlimited private funding of campaigns leads to --
government for those who fund the campaigns.

Elizabeth Rajasingh
Perls Fellow, Knowledge Ecology International
1621 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20009
*elizabeth.rajasingh at keionline.org <elizabeth.rajasingh at keionline.org>* |

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