Metro advertisements for Doctors Without Borders in Washington DC, 2015. Photograph by Drew Angerer
Issue brief |

Trading Away Health: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement

Photograph by Drew Angerer

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal is currently under consideration by the US and eleven other Pacific Rim nations: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The agreement is slated to further expand its membership, potentially to all 21 Asia Pacific APEC nations.

The negotiations, which began in 2010, were conducted in secret, without the opportunity for public scrutiny.  However, leaked drafts of the United States government’s proposals for some sections of the agreement revealed the inclusion of dangerous provisions that would dismantle public health safeguards enshrined in international law and restrict access to affordable generic medicines for millions of people in developing countries. The TPP agreement was signed by the current 12 TPP countries in February 2016. The final agreed text is now publicly available and confirms that many of MSFs concerns remain in the final agreement. Yet it is still possible to prevent the agreement from entering into force. MSF urges all TPP countries to reject provisions that will harm access to medicines, and to refrain from ratifying or implementing the agreement in its current form.

This briefing document from MSF illustrates how the TPP represents the most far reaching attempt to date to impose aggressive TRIPS-plus IP standards that further tip the balance towards commercial interests and away from public health. In developing countries, where people rarely have health insurance and must pay for medicines out of pocket, high prices keep lifesaving medicines out of reach and are often a matter of life and death.