[Ip-health] MSF Press Release: As Trans-Pacific trade talks accelerate, vital lifeline of affordable medicines under threat

Michelle French Michelle.French at newyork.msf.org
Fri Dec 6 05:54:49 PST 2013


As Trans-Pacific trade talks accelerate, vital lifeline of affordable 
medicines under threat

GENEVA/SINGAPORE – December 6, 2013 – As trade ministers for the 12 
countries negotiating the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) 
agreement convene in Singapore this weekend for high level talks aimed at 
securing a deal by the end of the year, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins 
Sans Frontières (MSF) warned that the vital lifeline of affordable generic 
medicines that millions depend on could be severely constrained by the 
terms of the trade pact.

In the latest technical negotiations that ended in Salt Lake City last 
week, the U.S. government not only held firm on proposed intellectual 
property (IP) terms that have been widely rejected by its trading partners 
and others, including MSF, but added an additional demand to protect high 
prices for newer biologic medicines, and altered the terms by which the 
poorest countries will need to implement these obligations. 

“After two years of stonewalling its trading partners, the U.S. government 
is trying to use deadline pressure to force negotiators to accept the most 
damaging restrictions on public health and access to medicines ever to be 
imposed on developing countries,” said Rohit Malpani, Director of Policy 
and Analysis for MSF’s Access Campaign.  “The U.S. government seems 
determined to give pharmaceutical companies more power to raise the cost 
of medicines for millions of people around the world, while curtailing the 
power of governments to protect public health.  MSF urges all TPP 
countries to reject political pressure to accept damaging rules in the 
final push to conclude the negotiations.”

For a summary of MSF’s concerns, read our open letter sent to all TPP 
countries, and visit http://msfaccess.org/tpp for more information

The U.S. has put forth a new demand that clinical data for biologic 
medicines be locked up for 12 years, granting additional monopoly 
protection to biopharmaceutical firms. This “data exclusivity” provision 
will prevent drug regulatory agencies from referencing data needed to 
approve lower-cost versions of expensive medicines, thereby delaying 
price-lowering competition.  This proposal directly contravenes the White 
House’s own calls to reduce data exclusivity terms in the U.S. to seven 
years to protect consumers from additional years of high medicine prices. 

In an attempt to gain political concessions, the U.S. government is also 
proposing differential treatment for the intellectual property chapter, 
whereby several of the poorest countries in the negotiations could defer 
full implementation of a few of the provisions for a limited time.  But 
all countries – including the poorest – would still immediately be saddled 
with intellectual property rules that far exceed what is required under 
international trade rules, which already pose serious barriers to 
affordable medicines.  And eventually all of the harmful terms would be 
applied to all TPP countries.

“The U.S. claims that its amended proposal offers the same concessions 
made to a few developing countries by the prior administration in previous 
trade agreements, but in fact what’s on offer today is more damaging than 
what was agreed to in those trade deals,” said Judit Rius Sanjuan, U.S. 
Manager of MSF’s Access Campaign.  “The U.S. government’s superficial 
concessions reveal that the U.S. remains tone-deaf to public health 
concerns; the amended U.S. offer would ultimately have disastrous effects 
on poor people across the region, and should be rejected.”


Background note to editors:
Last month, the text of the intellectual property chapter currently under 
negotiation was leaked to the public, revealing the stark contrast between 
the U.S. position and that of nearly every other country in the 
negotiation.  The leaked IP chapter shows the U.S. demanding some of the 
harshest provisions against access to medicines ever included in a trade 
agreement, gutting public health safeguards and leaving countries unable 
to take the steps needed to protect the lives and health of people.  The 
leak also shows that some governments, including Canada, Chile, New 
Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore, have put forth a counter-proposal that 
better protects access to medicines, but reports from the latest talks 
indicate that the U.S. has refused to engage in discussions about this 
counter-proposal, and their position remains extremely damaging to public 
health and access to medicines.

Michelle French
Communications Officer
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) - Access Campaign
Office: +1.212.763.5735 | Mobile: +1.646.552.4600
michelle.french at newyork.msf.org | Skype: michellejfrench
www.msfaccess.org | twitter.com/MSF_access | www.facebook.com/MSFaccess

More information about the Ip-health mailing list