[Ip-health] Asia-Pacific Health Groups Raise Alarm over intellectual property and investment provisions in RCEP negotiations

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Apr 28 02:29:02 PDT 2016

As the 12th Round of the RCEP negotiations winds down in Australia,
Asia-Pacific Health Groups are calling on RCEP countries to remove any
TRIPS-plus discussions from the negotiations and to take the lead in
setting a positive agenda that places health before the profits of the
corporate sector.

Their press release is below and a more detailed statement from APN+ issued
at the start of this round of negotiations is available at this link:

*Asia-Pacific Health Groups Raise Alarm over intellectual property and
investment provisions in RCEP negotiations*
*Call on RCEP countries to protect public health and access to medicines
at 12th Round of negotiations in Australia*

*Bangkok, 26 April 2016* – As negotiators from 16 countries in the
Asia-Pacific region, including all ASEAN countries, China and
India, conclude the 12th round of negotiations of the Regional
Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) in Australia, groups
fighting for access to affordable health care for all see their hopes
threatened by the potential adverse impact of these negotiations,
particularly on issues related to intellectual property and investment

The "Intellectual Property" and "Investment" chapters of the RCEP
negotiations have been leaked online in the past week. Dated October 2015
these chapters reveal that developed countries, Japan and South Korea in
particular, are tabling demands beyond those required by the WTO (TRIPS
provisions), such as patent term extension (patents longer than 20 years)
and data exclusivity, that prevents governments from relying on clinical
trial data to register generic versions of medicines even if they are
off-patent, their patents have expired or are revoked & complicates the
issuance of compulsory licences. Procedural matters such as accelerated
patent examination and technical assistance on patent office trainings also
figure in the leaked text and may indirectly result in the imposition of
the weaker patent standards of developed countries into developing

“*We are extremely alarmed after reviewing the IP and investment chapters
being negotiated as part of RCEP and in particular note that Japan and
South Korea are demanding intellectual property protections from the
developing countries of ASEAN and from India and China beyond that required
by the World Trade Organisation (WTO),*” said Shiba Phurailatpam of Asia
Pacific Network of people living with HIV and AIDS (APN+). “*It is well
known that China produces the raw materials for most pharmaceutical
manufacturing in the world, India is the leader in formulations and
rightly  referred to as the pharmacy of the developing world and the Thai
GPO is a leader in regional generic production. The RCEP is a trap for the
countries with the most globally significant generic manufacturing and this
one trade agreement will place the lives and health of millions firmly in
the grip and at the mercy of multinational pharmaceutical companies,"*he

Across the region, patients rely on affordable generic medicines for their
treatment. With only one in three people in the Asia-Pacific on HIV
treatment, any provisions that hamper generic production and supply of
affordable medicines will be a direct threat to the lives and health of
millions in the region. APN+ has released a detailed statement in light of
the leaked chapters noting that RCEP developing countries have taken the
leadership in balancing their WTO obligations with public health and access
to medicines and calling on developing and least developed countries in the
RCEP negotiations to preserve their ability to take legal actions to ensure
access to generic medicines.

"*Indonesia has issued compulsory licenses in 2004, 2007 and 2012 to ensure
access to affordable generic medicines for HIV and Hepatitis B. But the
Indonesian government needs to do much more and use more TRIPS
flexibilities like strict patentability criteria to ensure that frivolous
patents are not granted in Indonesia. But now we see attempts by developed
countries in the RCEP negotiations to lower patent criteria - all to favour
pharmaceutical MNCs in getting more monopolies on medicines. Longer patent
terms and data exclusivity will keep generic medicines off the market for
longer periods. These provisions need to be removed from the negotiations
entirely*," said Sindi Putri of the Indonesia AIDS Coalition (IAC).

Developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region are already in a precarious
situation; they are implementing WTO obligations by granting 20 year
patents, losing access to foreign funding due to being categorized as
middle-income countries by the World Bank and MNC pharmaceutical companies
are withdrawing lower prices or excluding several countries from voluntary

"*By signing on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), Malaysia
faces longer monopolies on medicines and steep prices. We are shocked to
now see the RCEP negotiations going even further than the TPP. People
living with Hepatitis C in Malaysia are paying between $12,000 to $100,000
for 12 weeks to 24 weeks of sofosbuvir because the MNC Gilead has not
included us in its voluntary license. Indian generic companies are selling
the same course of treatment for $324. Longer and greater monopolies on
medicines in the RCEP negotiations will only make a bad situation worse*,"
said Edward Low of Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group

"*The signing of the TPP seems to have made governments in our region
desperate to complete the RCEP negotiations. The US government may not even
end up ratifying the TPP but through the RCEP many of its worst provisions
will end up binding 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific region*," added Do
Dang Dong of Vietnam Network of People living with HIV/AIDS (VNP+). "*We
can see from the leaked text that the developing countries in the
negotiations like ASEAN, India and China are attempting to push back on the
demands by the developed countries. While we fully support the developing
countries' in taking a strong stand against TRIPS-plus provisions in the
RCEP, these provisions should not be on the table to begin with. We are
worried that developing countries are trapping themselves in these
negotiations by allowing developed countries to treat the lives and health
of millions like a commodity that can be traded*."

“*The RCEP negotiations should set an example by prioritising health over
corporate or trade interests. RCEP should set a positive agenda on public
health and access to medicines by supporting the use of legal actions by
developing countries to ensure access to medicines, promoting technology
transfer and local production of generic medicines and identifying and
committing resources to the public health research and development needs of
developing and least developed countries in the region. We are also calling
on the RCEP countries to release the current text that is being negotiated
on intellectual property and investment and hold wide spread public
consultations to ensure that this trade agreement does not undermine public
health and access to medicines*,” added Phurailatpam.

*For more information* please contact Mr. Shiba Phurailatpam (APN+) at
shiba at apnplus.org or +66866000738; Mr. Edward Low (MTAAG+) at
erd_2000_1999 at yahoo.co.uk or +6012-3278812; Ms. Sindi Putri (IAC) at
sindi at iac.or.id and Mr. Do Dang Dong (VNP+) atdongdodang at gmail.com or +84 3
8737933 or +84 974243366

·                  Leaked RCEP IP and investment chapters:
·                The RCEP Negotiations are taking place between 16
countries from the Asia-Pacific region. GuidingPrinciples and Objectives of
the Negotiations:
·                  Previous reports on TRIPS-plus demands in RCEP
·                  Overview of public health related TRIPS-plus provisions
in Free Trade Agreement Negotiations can be found here:

·                  Bangkok Declaration of Public Interest and Public Health
Groups on TRIPS-plus provisions in FTAs:
·                  Use of TRIPS flexibilities in the Asia-Pacific Region:
·                  UNDP and UNAIDS Policy Brief on the importance of the
TRIPS extention for LDCS:


·        WTO Decisions granting LDCs extension for applying TRIPS Agreement
till 2021 (http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news13_e/trip_11jun13_e.htm);
and for exempting pharmaceutical products from patents and test data
protection till 2033:
·                  For information on Indian generic prices for directly
acting anti-virals to treat Hepatitis C:

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