[Ip-health] #RCEP trade agreement threatens access to affordable medicines for half the world’s population

leena menghaney leenamenghaney at gmail.com
Mon Jun 13 23:25:09 PDT 2016

June 14, 2016
RCEP trade agreement threatens access to affordable medicines for half the
world’s population

Background information:

As negotiators from 16 countries gather in Auckland, New Zealand, this week
for the thirteenth round of negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive
Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal, Médecins Sans Frontières, along
with other health organisations, appeals for the removal of harmful
intellectual property provisions that could potentially raise treatment
costs by creating new forms of monopolies and delaying the entry of
affordable generics in the market. If the intellectual property provisions
proposed by Japan and South Korea are accepted, access to essential
medicines will be restricted for millions of people across Asia and the
world who rely on life-saving affordable generics made in India.

RCEP is a regional trade agreement being negotiated between the 10 ASEAN
(Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries and Australia, China,
India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. RCEP countries are home to
nearly 50% of the world’s population, including the most impoverished,
vulnerable and marginalised communities living in the Least Developed
Countries (LDCs).

A leaked copy of the intellectual property text being discussed at the
negotiations shows that Japan and South Korea have made several alarming
proposals to include intellectual property rules that go beyond what
international trade rules require, and that would undermine access to
affordable generic medicines.  MSF and other health organisations have been
working to remove similarly harmful provisions from another trade deal, the
Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which would restrict access to
medicines for more than 800 million people living in 12 Pacific Rim

Quotes from health organisations:

Belinda Townsend, Public Health Association of Australia:

“The RCEP trade deal threatens to undermine India and China’s role as major
suppliers of generic medicines for people in the developing world,
including both low- and middle-income countries such as Cambodia, China,
India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand. Access to
affordable generic medicines is vital for these countries to address public
health challenges, including HIV, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis and
non-communicable diseases, and to ensure that their governments can
progressively realize the sustainable development goal of universal access
to health care. If RCEP imposes high levels of intellectual property
protection, these countries could lose their capacity to increase access to
affordable of medicines for their populations.”

Chalermsak Kittitrakul, AIDS Access, Thailand –

“If the RCEP trade deal imposes harmful ‘TRIPS-plus’ provisions, including
patent term extensions and data exclusivity, access to affordable medicine
will be restricted across the region. A 2008 study found that five-year
patent term extensions in Thailand would increase medicine costs by nearly
six billion dollars over twenty years, severely affecting the national
health insurance system that cares for over 48 million people.”

Leena Menghaney, MSF Access Campaign, India:

“Unless negotiators remove harmful provisions from RCEP, this trade deal is
set to follow the dangerous path of the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership
agreement, which is recognised globally as the worst trade deal ever for
access to medicines. We appeal to India’s intellectual property negotiators
in particular to stand by the promise made last week by Health Minister JP
Nadda at the UN High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS that ‘India is committed to
maintaining TRIPS flexibilities to ensure access to affordable medicines.’”

Additional information:

1. Civil society letter to countries negotiating Regional Comprehensive
Economic Partnership (RECP) before the Auckland round (June 2016) of
2. Briefing document on two TRIPS-plus provisions:
3. Leaked intellectual property text from RCEP negotiations:

Leena Menghaney
Mobile: 9811365412

More information about the Ip-health mailing list