New York, 9 March 2015 — As the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) negotiations progress toward their anticipated conclusion, negotiators will meet in Hawaii this week, where intellectual property demands by the United States government will be discussed.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is deeply concerned about the grave impact that intellectual property measures under discussion in the TPP will have on access to medicines for people in developing countries.
MSF relies on affordable generic medicines to conduct its work in more than 60 countries across the globe.
The TPP’s draft intellectual property chapter proposes aggressively expanding intellectual property protections beyond what is required by international law and would lengthen, strengthen and broaden high-priced monopolies for life-saving medicines and vaccines, thereby restricting people’s access.
MSF, public health experts and interested parties, including U.S. members of Congress, have had extremely limited access to the negotiating text and therefore the capacity to inform the negotiations from a public health perspective. However, Congress is considering legislation to allow President Obama to 'fast track' approval of trade agreements, including the TPP.
MSF is very concerned that the fast track could be approved without a strong public health mandate and no recourse for members of Congress to improve the trade agreement text before final approval.
Quote from Judit Rius Sanjuan, U.S. Manager & Legal Policy Adviser, MSF Access Campaign
“If the TPP is passed as it stands, it will go down in history as the most harmful trade agreement for access to medicines ever. We know from leaked texts that the U.S. continues to push for provisions in these secret negotiations that threaten access to affordable medicines for people everywhere.
“One of the most outrageous provisions the U.S. is pursuing is an unprecedented specially extended period of monopoly protection for medical products known as biologics, which include important treatments and vaccines.
“Even though neither the public nor publicly-elected representatives have had a chance to sufficiently assess the text, Congress may still end up giving President Obama a de-facto blank check to get these provisions through with a simple yes or no vote in Congress.
“Renewing fast-track authority without major revisions to include public health safeguards will all but ensure that the TPP’s most damaging access to medicines provisions sail through.”
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare since 1971. MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation. Today, MSF has operations in nearly 70 countries.