270715 Consequences of the trans-Pacific free trade agreement for access to medicines

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 2:34 PM - 2:48 PM

Peter Maybarduk, JD , Global Access to Medicines Program, Public Citizen, Washington, DC
Burcu Kilic, PhD , Global Access to Medicines Program, Public Citizen, Washington, DC
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) under negotiation between Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. The United States seeks to eventually apply the Trans-Pacific FTA's terms to the entire Asia-Pacific region roughly half the world's population. Recently, President Obama called the Trans-Pacific FTA a real model, not only for the region but for the world. Unfortunately the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has proposed measures harmful to access to medicines in several chapters of the Trans-Pacific FTA that have not been seen before in U.S. trade pacts. The negotiations are closed to the public and the text is secret. Nevertheless, leaked texts have revealed U.S. demands that would significantly expand pharmaceutical patenting and lower patentability criteria, lengthen pharmaceutical monopolies and eliminate safeguards against patent abuse. New measures also challenge government purchasing and formularies. This paper analyzes in detail the changes the US proposal would require of negotiating countries' patent laws, and the risks these changes would pose for access to medicines. The U.S.-proposed terms would also constrain potential and emerging sources of supply such as Vietnam and Malaysia. Applied regionally, the Trans-Pacific FTA could limit the economies of scale necessary for the generics industry to keep prices low. These risks combined make the Trans-Pacific FTA especially dangerous for generic competition and access to medicines in the Asia-Pacific region. This paper proposes alternatives for a trans-Pacific partnership that supports, rather than endangers, public health.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Analyze the changes the US proposals to the Trans-Pacific free trade agreement would require of the laws of other negotiating countries. Assess the likely impact of these changes in law on regional access to medicines. Explain the risks of compunded effects, including reduction of economies of scale for the generics industry through new restrictions on emerging centers of production such as Vietnam and Malaysia. Identify policy alternatives for a trans-Pacific partnership that supports public health.

Keywords: Law, Medicine

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I direct the Global Access to Medicines Program at Public Citizen, a non-profit consumer advocacy organization. I am a lawyer specializing in intellectual property. For the past five years I have provided technical assistance to developing countries in the field of trade, health and patent rules, analyzing complex texts and providing information to stakeholders regarding the likely effects of new policy rules.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.