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Trade Agreement Needs to Protect Access to Affordable Drugs

AARP, the AFL-CIO, Doctors Without Borders, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, and Oxfam have written President Obama expressing several concerns — which we share — about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement that the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries are negotiating.  The proposed agreement requires changes to avoid reducing access to affordable drugs both in the United States and abroad, they explain.  Here are three excerpts:

  • “[T]he intellectual property (IP) provisions that the U.S. Trade Representative has proposed fail to strike a proper balance between fostering innovation and ensuring expedited access to more affordable generic drugs through increased competition in the pharmaceutical market. . . . [They] would not only require TPP parties to grant very high levels of IP protection that go beyond existing international trade commitments, but would also lock in policies, for example with respect to biologic pharmaceuticals, that would contribute to putting these very expensive drugs and vaccines out of the reach of patients.”
  • “[T]he Annex on Transparency . . . could jeopardize governments’ efforts to contain costs in publicly supported health care programs. . . . [It] puts too much emphasis on the priorities of the originator [that is, pharmaceutical] industry, and does not give equal weight to patients and public health priorities such as drug affordability, safety, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness.  Indeed, this proposed text could have a negative impact on cost containment mechanisms, such as preferred drug lists, rebates, discounts, and formularies in all countries.  For example, it could adversely impact formularies and utilization rules used in U.S. health care programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Health Administration, the TRICARE program, and the 340B Drug Pricing Program.”
  • “Investor State Dispute Settlement proposals in the Investment Chapter could be used to limit competition, by allowing originator pharmaceutical firms to challenge efforts to manage pharmaceutical spending in public programs, including those used by state legislatures, Congress and public agencies here in the U.S. and abroad. For example, a manufacturer could challenge a state’s Medicaid preferred drug list or utilization rules that limit access to a certain drug under specific circumstances.”

We hope that the U.S. Trade Representative will heed these concerns as the TPP negotiations continue.