[Ip-health] MSF: TPP trade partners must stand against higher medicine prices

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Mon Jul 7 02:54:12 PDT 2014

*Trans-Pacific trade partners must stand against higher medicine prices and
take harmful provisions off the negotiating table *


 OTTAWA/GENEVA, July 2, 2014 – As Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
negotiators convene in Ottawa for another secret round of trade talks, it’s
time for the US to take harmful provisions that would raise medicine prices
for 800 million people across the Pacific Rim region out of the draft trade
agreement, said international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins
Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

MSF warns that higher medicine prices caused by harmful new rules in the
TPP trade pact will disproportionally affect the poorest populations across
all countries in the pact: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan,
Malaysia, Mexico New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam.  The
TPP includes countries with wide-ranging levels of economic development,
but the deadly effects of unaffordable medicines cut across these countries
and will hurt poor people across the region.

“Every TPP government is struggling to contain rising health costs, so it’s
beyond reason why provisions designed to delay the introduction of low-cost
generic medicines would be allowed to make it into the final TPP
agreement,” said Stephen Cornish, Executive Director of MSF Canada.

For more than three years, MSF and many others have fought against
US-backed proposals to impose intellectual property rules on TPP countries
that would restrict the ability of governments to regulate in the interest
of the public health and delay the availability of low-cost generic
versions of medicines.

For example, the TPP would allow corporations to sue governments in private
supra-national arbitration over pro-public health regulations or decisions
seen to be interfering with anticipated profits. The Canadian government
has been sued by Eli Lilly to the tune of $500 million, based on similar
provisions in NAFTA, because the corporation objects to a Canadian Supreme
Court ruling rejecting the patent for two of its blockbuster drugs. As a
result, Canadian law could be overturned by a ruling made in a secret,
private arbitration proceeding.

“It’s unacceptable that pharmaceutical companies, enabled by the TPP, could
have the power to overturn a decision that the Canadian government or any
other TPP country makes in the interest of public health.  Canada must take
a stand against unbridled corporate influence and steer the TPP in a
direction that protects public health.  This means rejecting all provisions
that will serve to increase medicine prices, including special rights for
corporations,” said Cornish.

Unable to find agreement among its trading partners on a range of harmful
provisions that would affect medicine prices, the US recently proposed a
staggered implementation strategy for some provisions, but only for the
poorest TPP countries.  However, the US-proposed intellectual property
rules would eventually have to be implemented across all TPP countries.  This
latest US proposal willfully ignores the fact that people living across all
TPP countries will be saddled with high medicine prices caused by these
harmful laws, no matter when they are implemented.

To see the harmful effects of the stringent intellectual property rules
that the US seeks to impose on TPP countries, we need only look to the US
market, where medicine prices have tripled since 1987, outpacing consumer
prices, which have only doubled.  These rules serve to block or delay
robust generic competition, which was instrumental in reducing prices for
first-line antiretroviral medicines for HIV/AIDS by 99% in developing
countries over the course of a decade -- key to enabling treatment to be
scaled up to more than 12 million people today.  Current U.S. proposals to
delay implementation of these rules for some of the less-developed TPP
countries won’t solve the problem:  no matter when countries are mandated
to impose these rules, the effect will be high medicine prices out of the
reach of millions of people.

“TPP governments, if they allow these provisions to be included in the
final agreement, will have to answer to the millions of people left behind
that will suffer the deadly consequences of high medicine prices,” said
Judit Rius, U.S. Manager and Legal Policy Adviser of the MSF Access
Campaign. “Higher medicine prices cost lives in countries at every level of
economic development, and the TPP regulations in question should be
rejected outright.”

For more information on the harmful provisions being proposed in the TPP,
please visit http://msfaccess.org/tpp

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: @joanna_keenan


More information about the Ip-health mailing list