[Ip-health] Dr. Margaret Chan: TPP may "close access to affordable medicines"

Zack Struver zack.struver at keionline.org
Thu Nov 12 09:32:42 PST 2015

Dr. Margaret Chan: TPP may "close access to affordable medicines"
Submitted by Zack Struver on 12. November 2015 - 13:27

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan
addressed civil society and policy-oriented “think tanks” on November 12,
2015, and “challenge[d]” them to “help with issues that keep me awake at
night.” Specifically, she mentioned the problems with pharmaceutical
patents, high drug prices as a barrier to access, and the current system of
incentives for new drug innovation. Dr. Chan also raised concerns about the
the TPP, which she said may raise drug prices and harm access to generics.

The relevant portion of her remarks are reproduced below, and the full
speech, which also discusses other public health measures, is available on
the WHO website:

<-----begin quote
Intellectual property rights and the patent system continue to raise
questions about fairness. I have been hearing some serious concerns that
the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the biggest trade agreement ever, may
adversely affect the market for generics and biosimilars and increase the
cost of medicines.

I would like to hear your views. If these agreements open trade yet close
access to affordable medicines, we have to ask: Is this really progress at
all, especially with the costs of care soaring everywhere?

And they are soaring. Genuine therapeutic breakthroughs increasingly come
at an astronomical cost. Some of the new drugs for hepatitis C cost US$
1000 a pill. In poorer countries, adding 1 new drug to the standard regimen
for treating breast cancer greatly increases the cost.

High prices block access. Hepatitis C affects around 150 million people,
mostly living in poor countries. Unless we get these prices down, many
millions of people will be left behind.

Let me ask you. What is a fair profit for a pharmaceutical company? To what
extent does the market exclusivity conferred by patent protection actually
stimulate innovation? I have heard this widely-held assumption challenged
by several economists.
end quote----->

Zack Struver, Communications and Research Associate
Knowledge Ecology International
zack.struver at keionline.org
Twitter: @zstruver <https://twitter.com/zstruver>
Office: +1 (202) 332-2670 Cell: +1 (914) 582-1428

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