3 days popular7 days popular1 month popular3 months popular

A new Pacific-Rim Trade Agreement threatens future access to medicines

The recently negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement contains provisions that would dramatically and negatively impact access to affordable medicines in the United States and elsewhere if it is ratified, according to Brook Baker, from the Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, United States, in a new Essay published in this week’s PLOS Medicine.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement finally reached a draft agreement in October, 2015 and was signed in February 2016. The next stage of implementation for the agreement is ratification by signatory countries which may take up to 2 years.

In his Essay Prof. Baker outlines how provisions in the Intellectual Property chapter of the agreement lengthen, broaden, and strengthen patent-related monopolies on medicine and erects new monopoly protections on regulatory data as well. He describes dangerous terms in the Investment Chapter that define intellectual property rights as investments and that allows foreign entities to use investor-state-dispute-settlement private arbitration provisions to challenge IP-related decisions and policies that adversely impact their expectations of profits. He also outlines how an annex to the agreement’s Transparency chapter addressing transparency and procedural fairness for pharmaceutical products and medical devices, gives companies multiple opportunities to intercede in decisions to list products for reimbursement.

Prof. Baker argues, “[intellectual property] maximization in the [Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement] will harm access to more affordable medicines in both in the US and its trading partners. Policy space on both sides of the Pacific will be reduced while opportunities for excessive pricing will increase dramatically with predictable adverse consequence for the right to health. Armed with knowledge about the details of the [Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement's] anti-access provisions, there is still time for health advocates to convince the US Congress and [Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement] partners that the [Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement's] monopoly- enhancing measures must be rejected.”