[Ip-health] Politico EU: NGOs cry foul at drug patent rules in TPP

Joanna Keenan joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Thu Aug 6 03:46:17 PDT 2015

NGOs cry foul at drug patent rules in TPP
NGOs say draft US-Pacific Rim trade deal threatens access to life-saving
By Peter O’Donnell and Ellis Kim
8/5/15, 7:48 PM CET

The international pharmaceutical industry is under renewed attack for
squeezing trading partners into tight intellectual property rights

In a re-run of many health campaigners’ arguments against the plans for the
transatlantic free-trade area TTIP, NGOs say that the latest draft of the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — now nearing finalization between the U.S.
and 11 Pacific Rim countries — is “strengthening regulatory monopolies and
patents for industry giants while reducing the availability of cheaper,
generic alternatives.”

Health campaigners blame drug firms for pressuring the U.S. administration
into forcing the hand of weaker partners — mirroring the frequent attacks
on undue branded-drug industry influence on the TTIP negotiations.

According to U.S. NGO Knowledge Ecology International, the latest TPP draft
— a supposedly secret document — is aiming to impose 12 years’ monopoly on
data used to register biologic drugs and vaccines.

A leaked text also indicates U.S. pressure for wider patent protection for
pharmaceuticals, vaccines and medical devices, and patent terms exceeding
the customary term of 20 years. And this latest draft would, says Knowledge
Ecology International, boost the chances for successful “ever-greening” of
patents — keeping patents valid by repeatedly registering minor variations.

It would require drug regulatory agencies to evaluate and enforce patent
holders’ assertions that their continuing rights were being infringed.

Responding on Wednesday to the leaked text, Médecins Sans Frontières
described the draft agreement as threatening access to life-saving
medicines for millions. Judit Rius Sanjuan, U.S. manager and legal policy
adviser for MSF’s Access Campaign, highlighted the provisions on data
exclusivity for biologic products. This “will have a devastating impact on
global health,” she said.

Médecins Sans Frontières says the measure would prevent national regulatory
authorities from making use of clinical trial data needed to approve
cheaper copies of biologic products, even after the patents have expired.

The medical NGO is urging negotiators in the Pacific Rim countries to
reject these provisions. It warns that securing carve-out exemptions for
selected countries — one of the concessions being offered in the
negotiations — won’t suffice.

“What we really need is these provisions removed completely from the TPP,
not special deals that exempt only specific countries from these rules,”
said Rius Sanjuan.

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


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