[Ip-health] MSF: Trans-Pacific Partnership a threat to public health in Asia-Pacific region

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Fri Mar 15 04:09:58 PDT 2013

*Trans-Pacific Partnership a threat to public health in Asia-Pacific region*

*Médecins Sans Frontières* *calls on Japan and other negotiating countries
to resist attempts** to restrict access to medicines.*


*Tokyo, 15 March 2013* – Following Prime Minister Abe’s announcement today
of Japan’s intention to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement
negotiations, international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans
Frontières (MSF) called on Japan and the rest of TPP negotiating countries
to reject rules that threaten to dismantle internationally-agreed public
health safeguards and restrict access to medicines in developing countries.

“MSF relies on affordable generic medicines for our medical work. In the
case of HIV treatment, over 80 per cent of medicines used in developing
countries are generics,” said Brian Davies, MSF Access Campaign Coordinator
in Japan. “By rejecting any harsh demands on intellectual property, Japan
can take a leading role in protecting access to life-saving medicines for
people across the Asia-Pacific region.”

The TPP negotiations, which currently involve eleven Asia-Pacific
countries, are being conducted in secret, but leaked texts reveal the
United States is proposing the most aggressive intellectual property (IP)
measures ever suggested in a trade deal with developing countries.  The
inclusion of the current U.S. demands – which go beyond
internationally-agreed public health safeguards – in any final agreement,
will result in more years of high-priced medicines at the expense of people
needing treatment, who must then wait longer for access to affordable
generic medicines.

“Too many people already die needlessly because the medicines they need are
too expensive or do not exist, and we cannot stand by as the Trans-Pacific
Partnership threatens to further restrict access to medicines in developing
countries,” said Dr. Unni Karunakara, International President of MSF.   “We
are gravely concerned about countries like Thailand, where MSF started
treating HIV/AIDS more than a decade ago and then transitioned its
programmes to local authorities with the confidence that they would be able
to continue providing lifesaving treatments.  Now Thailand is on the cusp
of joining a dangerous deal that could jeopardise its ability to maintain,
let alone scale up, vital, life-saving health programmes for its people.”

The proposed IP rules would grant the pharmaceutical industry a
wide-ranging set of legal mechanisms designed to prolong monopoly
protection for medicines and delay the availability of more affordable
generic versions. Furthermore, U.S. negotiators have said the TPP will be a
template for its future trade agreements across the globe, setting a
damaging precedent.

One proposed TPP provision would require governments to grant new 20-year
patents for modifications of existing medicines, such as new forms, uses or
methods, even without improvement of therapeutic efficacy for patients.
Another provision would make it more expensive and cumbersome to challenge
undeserved or invalid patents; and yet another would add additional years
to a patent term to compensate for administrative processes.  Taken
together, these and other provisions will keep medicine prices high and out
of the reach of millions in the Asia-Pacific region.

Despite widespread opposition to its current proposals, including from
other negotiating countries, the U.S. has failed to put forth any
alternative text, essentially running out the clock so countries may be
forced to accept its original demands in order to meet the announced
October 2013 deadline.

“The provisions currently on the table are among the harshest measures ever
proposed for intellectual property in trade agreements. If negotiators run
out of time and the agreement is hastily signed, it would simply choke off
access to affordable medicines for everyone in the region”, said Davies.
“MSF appeals to Japan and the other negotiating governments – don’t accept
the provisions that will impact so many lives before you sign on the dotted

*Note to editors:*

*For additional information, please view MSF's February 2013** TPP Briefing
**and visit** **msfaccess.org/tpp for updates.*


*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


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