[Ip-health] Fwd: UNITAID statement on TPP

Krista L. Cox krista.cox at keionline.org
Fri Nov 15 10:42:24 PST 2013



ON 13 NOVEMBER 2013.
Geneva, 12th November 2013 - UNITAID has expressed concern about some
aspects of the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)
negotiations between countries in Asia Pacific.

“Many of the agreement’s provisions still under discussion could
significantly affect access to medicines through hampering generic
competition if adopted,” said Dr Denis Broun, Executive Director of
UNITAID.  “The immediate impact would be in the countries that are party to
the agreement, but it is likely to not stop there. The TPPA has already
been touted as the new ‘gold standard’ for future trade deals, and we would
therefore expect that this would set the precedent for similar limiting
provisions to be included in these future agreements, including with
developing countries.”

Specifically, UNITAID is concerned about reports that the TPPA would impose
low standards for patents which is likely to lead to a proliferation of
secondary patents being granted (or “ever greening”), preventing fair
competition for long periods. UNITAID is also concerned about other
“TRIPS-plus” provisions, such as data exclusivity, patent-registration
linkage and extensions of the patent term. All these different provisions
are likely to complicate and delay generic competition and are of concern
as generic competition has been key in making medicines affordable, and
therefore accessible, to people in low-income countries, according to Dr

Border measures are another area of concern.  They would allow customs
officials to seize medicine shipments on the suspicion of trademark
infringement while they are in transit from an exporting country to their
destination.  Unjustified seizures disrupt the supply of critical
medicines, which can have serious public health consequences, since they
can lead to the unavailability or interruption of treatment. They also
undermine the work of organizations like UNITAID, and could even affect
countries that are not party to the TPPA.

The concerns do not end there. Other potentially problematic provisions
that   reportedly are under consideration include an investor-state dispute
settlement mechanism. “This means that large foreign companies are allowed
to sue a government, when they do not agree with that government’s actions”
added Dr Broun.  “For example, when a government uses TRIPS flexibilities,
the affected company can use this mechanism to seek compensation.
 Flexibilities were included in TRIPS to enable governments to protect
public interests, such as access to medicines.  UNITAID urges governments
not to underestimate the importance of these flexibilities and to make sure
negotiations are conducted in a public manner, allowing all interested
parties to check that they do not undermine or bypass public health

Krista L. Cox
Staff Attorney
Knowledge Ecology International
(202) 332-2670

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