[Ip-health] MSF Open Letter to TPP Countries: Don't trade away health

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Wed Jul 17 01:18:11 PDT 2013

 *As the next round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)
negotiations continues in Malaysia, **Médecins Sans Frontières urges
negotiating countries to reject provisions that threaten to restrict access
to affordable medicines for millions of people. The following letter was
sent to heads of governments, ministers of health and TPP lead negotiators
for all countries currently involved in TPP, including Japan.


We are writing to express serious concern over provisions under negotiation
in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) that threaten to restrict
access to affordable medicines for millions of people, especially in low-
and middle-income countries. Unless certain damaging provisions are
removed, the TPP has the potential to become the most harmful trade pact
ever for access to medicines.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is an independent
international medical humanitarian organization that delivers medical care
to people affected by armed conflicts, epidemics, natural disasters and
exclusion from healthcare in nearly 70 countries. In order to fulfill its
mission, MSF requires access to affordable medicines.

Generic competition has proven to be the best way to reduce drug prices and
improve access to treatment. MSF began providing antiretroviral (ARV)
treatment for HIV/AIDS in 2000 when the cost of treatment was more than
10,000 USD per patient per year. MSF now treats 285,000 people in HIV/AIDS
projects in 21 countries, mostly with generic drugs produced in Asia. These
generics have reduced the cost of treatment by nearly 99% to less than 140
USD per patient per year. Ministries of health, humanitarian medical
treatment providers like MSF, and donors routinely rely on affordable
quality generic medicines to treat a variety of health needs.

The TPP is being negotiated without opportunity for meaningful public
input. Leaked texts, however, indicate that stringent intellectual property
(IP) provisions proposed by the United States go well beyond rules
established by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on
Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). These
demands, summarized in an annex to this letter, will roll back public
health safeguards and flexibilities enshrined in international law, and put
in place far-reaching monopoly protections that will restrict generic
competition and keep medicine prices unaffordable.

We believe this presents a direct threat to the future availability of
affordable medicines for MSF’s patients and for millions of others around
the Asia-Pacific region. We are also concerned that the TPP, billed as a
‘21st century model trade agreement’, could become a global standard, with
worldwide damaging repercussions for access to treatment.

Negotiating countries should reject provisions that will harm access to
medicines and ensure that the final text is aligned with relevant global
public health commitments. Such commitments include the 2001 WTO Doha
Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health and the 2008 WHO Global Strategy and
Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation, and Intellectual Property.

The medical research and development (R&D) system as it stands today does
not deliver innovation for neglected populations and it results in
unaffordable medicine prices for patients worldwide. Stricter IP rules
reinforce, instead of reform, this broken system. There is a pressing need
for a paradigm shift in the way pharmaceuticals are researched and
developed, and how intellectual property is applied to medicines as global
public goods. Governments should introduce global norms which delink drug
development and price. MSF believes this is essential to closing the gap in
access to medicines for millions of people around the world by promoting
both innovation and access.

We thank you for your attention and are available for further discussions
and information.


Dr. Unni Karunakara
International President
Médecins Sans Frontières

Dr. Manica Balasegaram
Executive Director, Access Campaign
Médecins Sans Frontières

Paul McPhun
Executive Director, Australia
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders

Stephen Cornish
Executive Director, Canada
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders

Eric Ouannes
Executive Director, Japan
Médecins Sans Frontières

Liesbeth Aelbrecht
Director Ejecutivo, Mexico
Médecins Sans Frontières/Médicos Sin Fronteras

Sophie Delaunay
Executive Director, USA
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders

Joanna Keenan
Press Officer
Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign
P: +41 22 849 87 45
M: +41 79 203 13 02
E: joanna.keenan[at]geneva.msf.org
T: twitter.com/joanna_keenan


More information about the Ip-health mailing list