[Ip-health] Fwd: MSF urges governments in Trans-Pacific trade deal to reject political trade-offs harmful to access to medicines

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Thu Oct 3 01:48:49 PDT 2013

*Governments in Trans-Pacific trade deal urged to reject political
trade-offs harmful to access to medicines*

* *

*On sidelines of APEC Summit, US may propose differential treatment for
some countries, which still blocks access to medicines for millions*



* *

*New York/Bali, Indonesia, 3 October 2013*—As Asia-Pacific leaders prepare
to meet in Bali for the APEC Summit, where the 12-country Trans-Pacific
Partnership Agreement trade deal will be high on the agenda, the
international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans
Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) urged governments not to make
political trade-offs during trade negotiations that will harm access to
affordable medicines for millions of people.

“So many millions of lives have been saved because of the availability of
affordable generic medicines, but we could watch this important progress
unravel as leaders trade away health in the TPP negotiations,” said Dr.
Manica Balasegaram, Executive Director of MSF’s Access Campaign. “We can’t
let the lives of millions of people get entangled in the political hard
bargaining as the US government pushes for the negotiations on this trade
deal to wrap up.”

The United States’ proposals in the TPP negotiations involve the most
egregious intellectual property provisions ever seen in a proposed trade
deal with both developed and developing countries. They cover multiple
avenues for multinational pharmaceutical companies to lengthen their
monopolies by extending patents on medicines through a common
pharmaceutical industry practice known as ‘evergreening.’ This keeps
medicine prices high for longer by blocking competition from generics.

The negotiations have entered a critical stage, where governments are being
urged to close the deal before the end of the year. After months of facing
opposition to their initial proposal, the US government may now be
proposing differential treatment on the intellectual property chapter,
whereby several of the poorest countries in the negotiations have a
temporary and limited exemption from some of the provisions. However, this
would still leave these countries with intellectual property provisions
that far exceed what is required under international trade rules, which
themselves are already choking off the supply of affordable medicines in
developing countries. Furthermore, millions of poor people in other TPP
countries will be left with unaffordable prices for the medicines they

“Nobody should be fooled by this latest US proposal, which purports to
lessen the negative impact this trade deal will have on access to medicines
in the poorest countries in the negotiations,” said Judit Rius, manager of
MSF’s Access Campaign in the US. “This is still a terrible deal that will
continue to delay the entry of affordable generic medicines that MSF and
millions of people rely on.”

In addition, pharmaceutical companies are lobbying for the US government to
demand twelve years of so-called ‘data exclusivity’ on biologic drugs in
the TPP negotiations, which will further delay the entry of more affordable
versions of these medicines.

“If the US were serious about protecting innovation and access to medicines
in this agreement, it would not propose stricter levels of intellectual
property protection”, said Rius. “Stricter intellectual property rules
limit innovation by creating monopolies that restrict innovative companies
and researchers from developing new or adapted medical tools. Instead, it
encourages some pharmaceutical companies to focus their business on
extending monopolies on existing medicines, rather than developing new
medicines that could truly respond to the health needs of people.”

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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