Friday, October 09, 2015

Medicine shouldn’t be a luxury

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has criticized aspects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal. MSF predicts that at least half a billion people will be unable to access medicines once the TPP takes effect. It says “Medicines shouldn’t be a luxury. Time is running out to change a trade deal that could jeopardize people’s access to affordable medicines.”

“The TPP will…go down in history as the worst trade agreement for access to medicines in developing countries,” said MSF in a statement following the signing of the TPP trade deal. “The big losers in the TPP are patients and treatment providers in developing countries,”

MSF Access Campaign's US Manager & Legal Policy Adviser, Judit Rius Sanjuan, expressed "dismay" that the TPP countries have agreed to demands "that will raise the price of medicines for millions by unnecessarily extending monopolies and further delaying price-lowering generic competition". She said that "TPP will still go down in history as the worst trade agreement for access to medicines in developing countries, which will be forced to change their laws to incorporate abusive intellectual property protections for pharmaceutical companies". She warned “The objective is to really create new monopolies for pharmaceutical companies and to strengthen and lengthen the monopolies they already have.”

According to Judit Rius, "There are two pharmaceutical companies in the US, they have managed to include into the agreement a package of provisions, which main impact is to extend the monopoly for pharmaceutical companies.” She pointed out that the agreement will have an immediate global impact, with medicine price increases, which "will make it much more difficult for MSF patients to have access to affordable medicines. We cannot fulfill our medical ambitions because of high prices of medicines, so I guess we will not be able to treat as many patients as we would like, and not be able to do as much as we would like,” Rius pointed out, stressing that medics will face on a daily basis "a difficult choice that we will have to do on patients’ lives.”

The data exclusivity windows makes it possible for a drug company to block its competitors for at least five years — with another three years of "regulatory review," officials told Reuters —from getting access to data that could be used to develop competing drugs. Large drug companies wanted an even longer window — 12 years.

“The negative impact of the TPP on public health will be enormous, be felt for years to come, and will not be limited to the current 12 TPP countries, as it is a dangerous blueprint for future agreements,” MSF warned.

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