[Ip-health] Trans Pacific Partnership: Sign-on letter for US groups

Peter Maybarduk pmaybarduk at citizen.org
Wed Aug 18 07:29:50 PDT 2010

It seems when we posted this message to IP-Health Monday, it came through as one long, solid block of text I imagine was difficult to read.  Here is a second attempt.  -peter


Please see below a sign-on letter to US Trade Representative Ambassador
Ron Kirk regarding intellectual property provisions in the proposed Trans
Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP).   Please let us know whether you
would like to sign on by next Monday, August 23.  This particular letter
is intended for U.S. policy makers, so at the moment we are only seeking
signatures from U.S. groups.

Thank you,

Peter Maybarduk

Public Citizen


Ambassador Ron Kirk

United States Trade Representative

600 17th Street NW

Washington, D.C. 20508

August X, 2010

Dear Ambassador Kirk,

We, the undersigned civil society organizations, write to you regarding
intellectual property provisions in the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership
agreement (TPP).  We are concerned that intellectual property measures
that may be included in an eventual agreement could undermine access to
medicines, and contravene candidate Obama’s promised “support [for] the
rights of sovereign nations to access quality-assured, low cost generic
medication to meet their pressing health needs under the WTO’s Declaration
on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).”

Nearly two billion people still lack regular access to medicines in
developing countries.  Although several important factors contribute to
this, one critical problem is the high price of monopolized medicines. 
Intellectual property provisions that go beyond the standard required by
the WTO’s TRIPS Agreement (“TRIPS-plus” measures) restrict generic
competition, leading to medicine prices that are unaffordable for most
people, and healthcare costs that restrict public programs’ ability to
provide treatment.

The previous Administration negotiated and signed a series of trade
agreements imposing TRIPS-plus measures on developing countries, and
restricting the use of TRIPS flexibilities. However, the US-Peru Trade
Promotion Agreement, the most recent U.S. trade agreement to be ratified
and implemented, benefited from an historic agreement between the U.S.
Congress and the previous administration.  This May 10th, 2007 agreement
achieved an unprecedented reversal in the decade-long trend of
increasingly severe intellectual property provisions.  Intellectual
property provisions in the Peru agreement make patent term extensions and
patent linkage voluntary instead of mandatory, and place limits on the
term and scope of data exclusivity.

Although the May 10th agreement fell short of adequately addressing access
to medicines concerns – its provisions, data exclusivity in particular,
still impose new costs on public health – it represented an important
progression in U.S. policy.  The TPP should build on this progress.

We believe the TPP should limit the intellectual property protections
required by various trade agreements in the region to levels no higher
than those set by the TRIPS Agreement.

Under no circumstances should the TPP undermine the May 10th agreement by
insisting on stricter intellectual property measures than those included
in the US-Peru FTA.  Under no circumstances should the TPP require
accession or adherence to the terms of the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting
Trade Agreement (ACTA), which could threaten access to medicines by
introducing new rules on damages and injunctions, limiting the free
transit of generics and imposing chilling effects on the generics trade. 
The TPP should not expand the data exclusivity obligations of any party,
or extend data exclusivity requirements to any countries that do not
already have them.  And under no circumstances should the agreement impose
procedural or substantive restrictions on the ability of government
agencies, including those at the state level, to regulate drug prices
through reimbursement policies.

Instead, to improve on the Bush administration’s record, the United States
should seek to end the harmful impact of trade agreements on access to
medicines.  The United States should begin by eliminating data exclusivity
requirements, which, in addition to compromising access to medicines, are
inconsistent with ethical standards regarding the duplication of tests on
humans or vertebrate animals.

The TPP should facilitate, rather than impede, the United States and its
trading partners honoring their commitments to access and innovation.  
The TPP should preserve countries’ options to “explore and, where
appropriate, promote a range of incentive schemes for research and
development including addressing, where appropriate, the de-linkage of the
costs of research and development and the price of health products,” in
accordance with World Health Assembly Resolution 61.21.  And the TPP must
respect the WTO’s 2001 Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public
Health, specifically, that “the [TRIPS] Agreement can and should be
interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO Members' right
to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to
medicines for all.”


[group signatories]

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