[Ip-health] TPP Country Medical Student Association Presidents Letter to TPP Negotiators

Reshma Ramachandran reshmagar at gmail.com
Thu Dec 6 15:39:29 PST 2012

Hi everyone,

Attached is a letter from TPP Medical Student Association Presidents
including the International Federation of Medical Student Associations
(IFMSA) to TPP negotiators asking for access to the negotiating text as
well as revisions or removal of provisions that threaten public health
including access to affordable medicines and provisions concerning tobacco
and alcohol. Please feel free to forward along to your networks  and ask
any questions/offer any comments. We appreciate any feedback you have to
give us.

Text below.

Take care,


December 7, 2012

Dear Trans Pacific Partnership Negotiators:

On behalf of physicians-in-training in countries participating in Trans
Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) nego- tiations, we are writing to urge
you, as negotiators, and our government officials to ensure that any
provisions in- cluded in the agreement text promote public health and
access to medicines rather than prioritizing multinational corporate
profits over patients.

As the next generation of physician leaders, we are deeply troubled by both
the lack of transparency surrounding these negotiations as well as the
preferential access to agreement text and negotiators afforded to industry.
A re- cent Avaaz petition asking to make the “TPP process transparent and
accountable to all, and call on all participat- ing parties to reject any
plans that limit our governments’ power to regulate in the public interest”
gathered over 700,000 signatures from concerned citizens around the world.1
We echo this call and others by various civil society organizations for
release of the full text of the draft agreement as well as the same
privileges for stakeholders to participate in negotiations as has been
provided to corporations. It is essential that the TPP text be subject to
public scrutiny and reflect the priorities of the global citizenry.

During our medical training, we witness firsthand the crucial benefit that
access to affordable medicines gives to patients. The ability to receive
such life-saving medicines is critical in preventing unnecessary deaths due
to both infectious and noncommunicable diseases. Unfortunately, it appears
that current negotiations may compromise this access by imposing
unprecedented TRIPS-plus intellectual property (IP) provisions. If included
in the agree- ment, these provisions have the potential to jeopardize
millions of lives in TPP participating countries by granting monopoly
protections to pharmaceutical companies, driving up the costs of medicines
significantly. It is unaccept- able that the cost of this agreement will be
access to medicines and, ultimately, the health of our nations’ citizens.

Therefore, we call for the following:

• Prohibition of “evergreening” or use of minor modifications of existing
drugs to extend market exclusivity
• Exemption from patent infringement of diagnostic, therapeutic, and
surgical procedures similar to 35 USC 287(c) • Rejection of any provision
to provide data exclusivity for biologics
• Preservation of existing national pharmaceutical benefit schemes such as
Pharmac in New Zealand and Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

In addition, tobacco and alcohol have been demonstrated to significantly
contribute to global disease morbidity and mortality. Tobacco alone is
responsible for one in ten deaths worldwide, and alcohol use accounts for
nearly four percent of deaths globally each year.2 3 The Framework
Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recognized the role of “price and tax
measures” in reducing tobacco consumption.4 In light of the unique status
and potential for harm that these products have, it is essential that both
tobacco and alcohol be carved out of any agreement.

On behalf of physicians-in-training in five TPP participating countries, we
implore you to ensure that any TPP agreement ensures our future patients
are able to access evidence-based and effective medicines and procedures
rather than forcing us as practitioners to compromise our medical
professionalism and the quality of care we are able to provide our
patients. As the TPP is a historic effort expected to set a precedent for
future agreements, we hope that it will also set a precedent in
prioritizing the health of our nations.

Thank you for your consideration.
1 http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_the_corporate_death_star/
2 World Health Organization (2008). The top 10 causes of death. Available
at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/index2.html
3 World Health Organization (2011). Global Status Report on Alcohol and
Health 2011. Available at
 4 World Health Organization (2003). Framework Convention on Tobacco
Control. Available at

Reshma Ramachandran
PharmFree Fellow, American Medical Student Association
Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University '15
m: 786-271-1531

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