[Ip-health] MSF says countries must fix critical access to medicines flaws in Trans-Pacific Trade Pact

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Tue May 14 03:26:13 PDT 2013

Infographics illustrating harmful access to medicines provisions in the
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement can be found here:

*Countries must fix critical access to medicines flaws in Trans-Pacific
Trade Pact*

*Access to medicines issues finally back on negotiators’ agenda after being
sidelined for more than a year*

*Lima**/New York, May 14, 2013*—As negotiations for the Trans-Pacific
Partnership (TPP) restart in Lima, Peru, tomorrow, countries must
prioritize fixing critical flaws in the agreement that could leave millions
of people in developing countries with limited access to affordable generic
medicines, international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without
Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today.

“Substantive discussions on access to medicines have languished for more
than a year, with negotiating countries and many other groups, including
MSF, voicing concerns about the damaging impacts of the proposed rules,”
said Judit Rius Sanjuan, U.S. Manager of the MSF Access Campaign. “The Lima
round offers a key opportunity for TPP negotiators to remove harmful
provisions from this trade agreement before it’s too late.”

Negotiations on the TPP—a far-reaching trade agreement between 11 Pacific
Rim countries—continue to be shrouded in secrecy, but leaked copies of the
agreement reveal that the United States is demanding the most harmful
package of intellectual property protections ever proposed for a trade
agreement with developing countries.

These rules would make it extremely difficult for generic competitors to
enter the market, keeping prices unaffordably high, with devastating public
health consequences.  The proposed provisions would, for example, lower
patentability standards, making it much easier for pharmaceutical companies
to obtain secondary patents and extend product monopolies for existing
drugs; prohibit challenges to weak or invalid patents until after they have
been granted; and grant backdoor monopolies by locking up clinical data
needed to approve generic drugs.

*For more information, please refer to MSF’s 2013 TPP Briefing Note,
available in English and Spanish at

“The TPP threatens to constrain countries’ ability to limit abusive
patenting and to ensure timely access to the affordable generic medicines
that are so critically important to treatment providers like MSF,” said Dr.
Jonathan Novoa Cain, president of MSF Latin America.  “Alarmingly, the TPP
is slated to become the ‘gold standard’ for future trade agreements across
the globe, which means that unless these provisions are rejected now, they
will be replicated and imposed on many more developing countries in the
coming years.”

International rules require governments to grant 20-year patents on
pharmaceuticals, but they also allow critical flexibilities in controlling
the quality of patents, and in determining under what conditions companies
can obtain additional patents on existing drugs.  Companies have developed
a variety of tactics to extend monopoly protection on their drugs beyond
the initial 20-year period, a practice commonly referred to as
‘evergreening.’ It is up to governments to prevent evergreening by putting
safeguards in place which balance commercial interests with public health

One example is India’s Section 3(d) law, which aims to achieve this
balance, and curb evergreening, by prohibiting the granting of secondary
patents on existing drugs unless they are substantially more effective than
the original drug.  Pharmaceutical company Novartis recently lost a
seven-year legal battle—which was taken all the way to the Indian Supreme
Court—in an attempt to challenge the application of this law. If accepted
in its current form, the TPP would take away governments’ ability to
implement similar safeguards.

MSF urges governments involved in the TPP negotiations to reject provisions
that will harm access to medicines.

- ends -

Kind regards


*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