[Ip-health] access to meds protestor arrested & POLITICO: Health care advocates blast possible TPP biologics deal

Steven Knievel sknievel at citizen.org
Wed Sep 30 14:25:18 PDT 2015

The period of exclusivity for biologics is one of the last remaining sticking points at the TPP Ministerial in Atlanta right now. Protestors have been out in force, and a short time ago police arrested Zahara Heckscher, a woman with breast cancer, after she disrupted the negotiations in protest. I've copied Zahara's media statement below the politico piece from Doug Palmer.


Health care advocates blast possible TPP biologics deal
By Doug Palmer 
09/30/2015 03:15PM EDT

ATLANTA - Health care advocates today protested a possible compromise on a key pharmaceutical issue in talks on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership pact, saying it would put lives at risk to boost corporate profits.

"We cannot allow the 'death sentence clause' to continue," Melinda St. Louis, director of international campaigns for Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, said at a press conference outside the Westin Peachtree Plaza. The hotel is where officials from the 12 TPP countries are trying to resolve remaining issues that stand in the way of the deal.
Current U.S. law gives pharmaceutical companies 12 years of exclusivity for biologics, a revolutionary class of drugs with the potential to treat intractable diseases like cancer and other killers, as well as to increase healthcare costs globally. However, the range of protection in other TPP countries ranges from zero to eight years.

While drug companies have pushed to enshrine the 12-year U.S. standard in the TPP pact, negotiators are reportedly considering a compromise that would provide eight years of protection. However, U.S. trade officials have not confirmed they would accept the shorter period. 

Critics say lengthy protections for biologics puts lives at risk by delaying the introduction of cheaper "biosimilar" drugs. U.S. trade officials say they are trying to strike a balance in the TPP between encouraging innovation and controlling health care costs. 

"TPP will help ensure that life-saving medicines are more widely available, while at the same time creating incentives for the development of new treatments and cures," a USTR spokesman said in a statement.

For immediate release
September 30, 2015, Atlanta

Contact: Zahara Heckscher

Cancer Patient Disrupts TPP Negotiations
Arrested from Hotel Demanding to See the Secret "Death Sentence Clause"

Today in Atlanta, cancer patient Zahara Heckscher was arrested after disrupting the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in a protest aimed at maintaining access to affordable cancer medicines in the 12 countries affected by the trade treaty.

Heckscher, in a t-shirt reading "I HAVE CANCER. I CAN'T WAIT 8 YEARS", and holding an IV pole that read "TPP: Don' t Cut My IV," refused to leave the Westin Hotel, the site of the negotiations between U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and the other TPP trade ministers. She demanded that they show her the secret TPP text to verify for herself and other people living with cancer around the globe that TPP would not include a "death sentence clause," the text of the U.S. proposal to extend de facto monopolies on biological medicines by up to 8 years.

Heckscher, a seven-year breast cancer survivor, calls herself a cancer thriver. She has been treated by biologicals including trastuzumab (Hercepin) and pertuzumab (Perjeta). She is currently undergoing chemotherapy as part of a clinical trial, and continues on denosumab (Xgeva) treatment as well.

According to Heckscher, "For thousands of women to die unnecessary of breast cancer because of the TPP is a horrible, cruel, premeditated, and avoidable catastrophe. The provisions being decided by TPP ministers today could allow drug monopolies on biologics for 8 years.  Some of these medicines cost up to tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year." 

"When you have breast cancer today, you can't wait 8 years or 7 years or 6 years for a treatment to become available or affordable. When you have cancer, even a one-year delay in affordable medicine can be a death sentence. That is why we call this proposed provision of the TPP a 'death sentence clause.' If it passes, thousands of women like me will die waiting."


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