Press release |

More than 50 groups call on U.S. Congress to stop worst trade deal ever for access to affordable medicines

Photograph by Drew Angerer
Metro advertisements for Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam America, Health GAP, Alliance for Retired Americans, National Nurses United, National Physicians Alliance, and Public Citizen are among the more than 50 groups calling on U.S. lawmakers to vote against the TPP in its current form due to provisions that would undermine public health

New York/Washington, DC, 11 April 12016 — More than fifty groups have come together to demand that the U.S. Congress reject the Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Deal (TPP) due to provisions it contains that would undermine public health. In a letter sent to Congress today, the groups outlined the damaging effects the trade deal would have on public health, and said lawmakers should not vote for the TPP unless damaging provisions are removed.  

As it is written, the TPP would extend pharmaceutical company monopolies, keep drug prices high and prevent people and medical treatment providers from accessing lifesaving medicines by blocking or delaying the availability of price-lowering generic drugs in the United States and abroad, the groups said.“Competition has consistently proven the most effective means of reducing prices and ensuring process continue to fall over time,” read the letter. “In the U.S., generic medicines have saved $1.5 million in health care costs in the past decade. Internationally, generics have played a critical role in responding to the AIDS epidemic, saving millions of lives.”

The TPP—which was agreed to in October after more than five years of negotiations that were conducted in secret and without the opportunity for public review—would dismantle public health safeguards and force developing countries to change their laws to incorporate abusive protections for pharmaceutical companies, said the groups. This makes it harder for people—and treatment providers—to buy the affordable medicines they need.

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Unacceptable TPP terms include the following provisions:

  • Enabling pharmaceutical companies to unduly influence government health programs and pricing and reimbursement decisions

  • Requiring countries to grant additional 20-year patents for modifications of existing medicines

  • Providing data and market exclusivity periods which create additional monopoly protections and block introduction of generic competitors, even when there is no patent on a medicine. Longer period of protection for biologic medicines—such as monoclonal antibodies that are rapidly becoming the treatment of choice for many cancers, diabetes and other illnesses.

  • Allowing pharmaceutical companies to sue the U.S. or other governments if health policies or government regulations are alleged to deprive them of anticipated profits.

“By expanding the monopoly power of pharmaceutical companies, TPP provisions would restrict generic competition and thereby enable medicine prices to keep spiraling out of reach – locking in a broken system here at home and exporting that system to the eleven other TPP countries,” the letter reads.  “As written, the TPP is inconsistent with U.S. domestic health priorities and global health policy. We urge Congress to reject the TPP as long as these damaging provisions are part of it. The stakes for public health are too high.” The current TPP countries are United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, but more countries could sign on. In the US, Congressional approval is still needed for the TPP to become law.